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Entrepreneur: The 5 Skills You Need to Thrive in the C-suite Lack of EQ is a primary cause of weak leadership, which is detrimental for organizational culture

By Pallavi Jha

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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What executive skills are most coveted by today's organizations? The trends differ by function, location and industry, but we have definitely seen some clear indicators regarding the direction in which C-level jobs are moving:

1. Emotional Intelligence

If you are in touch withyour strengths, your limitations, your values, and how you best perform, you are much more likely to lead others with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness and trust. Emotional intelligence is a necessary leadership quality because it equips you to manage your feelings, thoughts and behaviours and therefore, improve your interactions and relationships. Influential leaders have a highly developed sense of their own emotions, and are usually empathic and compassionate too. On the other hand, a lack of EQ is a primary cause of weak leadership, which is detrimental for organizational culture.

The Dale Carnegie 2016 Global Leadership Study, which was based on a survey completed by over 3,300 full-time employees across 14 countries, found that74% of employees are more motivated by a leader who, "encourages them and makes them believe in their ability to improve," while 63% would be motivated by a leader who admits their shortfalls as opposed to one with high self-assurance. This speaks volumes in terms of the kind of leader people want to lead them - ie. someone compassionate who recognizes the uniqueness of every employee, and is sensitive to their efforts.

2. Integrity

When one is responsible for a team of people, it's important to raise the bar on oneself even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself as a leader, and if you exemplify honest, ethical behaviour, your team will follow suit. Employees want to rest assured that their leaders will give everyone an equal shot at opportunities like promotions, project assignments, etc. When you act with integrity, it not only increases your workforce's loyalty to you and your business, but they will also become more engaged at the workplace.

3. Tech Skills

A C-level executive ought to be able to understand how technology is impacting their business and how to use it to their gain. Leaders need to be able to draw insights from data and then use that to further their organization or departmental needs. With smart phones, social networks, Big Data analytics and the cloud having become a big part of our personal and professional lives, today's business leaders need to possess a new battery of capabilities to keep their product offerings relevant to digital natives. A digital leader must also focus on the quality and functional value of a company's digital assets; if information is reliable, business decisions are made quicker and more likely to be trusted as sound, due to the integrity of the data upon which they are being based.

4. Dealing with Ambiguity

When leading a team through uncharted territory, there is no manual or 'how-to' -this is where drawing on past experience is a good reflex.Tough decisions will be up to you to decide, and you may be forced at times to differ from your set course and make a decision on the fly. Your team will look to you for guidance, and as a leader, you should be able to think outside the box and make decisions that are right for the company. Keeping your confidence will assure your team that obstacles are natural, and their focus should still be on the greater goal. Remember, you set the tone, so if you exude a calm ability to deal with any uncertainty headed your organization's way; your team will take cues from you.

5. Forward-Thinking

C-suite leaders should be able to spot emerging trends and then design a strategy around them. Much of every leader's job is tackling crises and problems -- this means watching out for new opportunities to be grabbed, and new road blocks to be dodged. If you find yourself regularly surprised by developments on the horizon, you need to change your approach. A big part of being a leader today is ensuring you are up to date with the times and constantly looking out for the next big thing. You never know what could catapult your business to the next level - as a leader, your job is ensure your organization jumps on it before your competition does. It could be the most unexpected of things, but the only way to know is to constantly have your finger on the pulse and examine what suits your business best.

There is no how-to for surviving in the C-suite but the above pointers serve as a worthwhile starting point. What competencies do you think C-suite executives need in order to be successful now, and what skills will they need in the decades to come?

Pallavi Jha

Chairperson and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie Training India

Pallavi Jha is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Dale  Carnegie Training India which has international partnerships with some of the world's leading firms and brands such as Dale Carnegie, USA (training), and PerformanSe, France (Assessments). Pallavi has diversified exposure to various management practices in areas such as training and development, HR, consulting and business restructuring, covering a wide range of industries from media, entertainment, technology to the financial services sector and the engineering industry.  

Apart from being a keynote speaker and a panel member in various forums on business, HR, training and leadership and an active member of the Confederation of Indian Industry and has held offices of the Chairperson for Maharashtra Council, CII and the Skills Development Committee for CII, Western Region, she is also an active member of the National Council on Skills Development, CII and its National Sub-committee on School Education.  

As a member of Rotary Club of India, Pallavi pursues her efforts in social projects. She has also received recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow. Earlier, was Executive Director of India's leading construction company, HCC, an erstwhile Walchand Group company before starting off her own ventures. She also worked briefly in market research at Feedback Ventures and Procter & Gamble. Pallavi is an MBA from Syracuse University, New York and a graduate in humanities from St Xavier's College, Mumbai. 


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