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The pandemic has drastically changed the way we work. As we enter 2022, business leaders will have to tackle emerging trends like the spillover effects of the “Great Resignation,” where employees are in search of meaningful work, and the rapid digitalization of operations. These circumstances need a new breed of leaders to rise to the occasion — leaders that are resilient and versatile enough to survive in the current landscape.

If you're aspiring to take on a leadership role in the near future, you may be wondering if this career path is suitable for you, given the constant evolution of modern business. By listing a few qualities found in the modern leader and ways you can get started, we hope to help you answer this question for yourself.

The Importance of a Good Leader

At the surface level, effective leaders get results. They set clear short- and long-term objectives, delegate tasks, and coordinate outputs to reach these goals. They’re instrumental in building a culture of trust and confidence that boosts employee productivity, morale, and job satisfaction. More importantly, they act as a beacon in times of crisis. This could not be emphasized more given the ongoing pandemic. To respond to both internal and external challenges, leaders need to be quick on their feet and foresee crises, all while engaging their employees.

Successful businesses quickly adapted to new remote and hybrid models and leveraged new market demands to feed expansion. At the same time, they never lost sight of the bigger picture, continuing to address pre-pandemic issues like workplace inequality and unemployment. Indeed, true leaders find ways to turn crises into opportunities. It’s critical to see failures as learning opportunities, be open to feedback, and finding innovative ways to improve yourself (and your team!).

What Makes a Modern Leader?

Though the truly effective and modern leader possesses many qualities, these can fall into four general categories.

The first is open-mindedness. Surrounding yourself with highly competent people can help you draw wisdom from multiple places. If you're working your way up, challenging yourself by taking on different difficult tasks can build your skills. As a leader, taking calculated risks can unlock new and exciting possibilities.

To do so, you’ll need a positive attitude that will motivate you to test your capabilities and inspire confidence in those you lead. The more you practice a positive attitude or positive thoughts, the more resilience you’ll build.  

Another crucial skill is time management. Leaders need to oversee countless responsibilities and engage their team without burnout spilling over into either of these tasks. Being disciplined with your time sustainably increases productivity and effectiveness for both yourself and your organization.

Yet arguably the most important quality is holding a high standard. Whether this is done by recruiting better talent, upskilling staff, or maintaining high-quality output, constantly pushing yourself and others to do better is key for organizations to reach their fullest potential.

Beginning the Path to Leadership

If you're relatively young career-wise, invest in further education. Try taking notes from the majority of America's top CEOs, like Tim Cook of Apple and John Stankey of AT&T, who both hold a master's degree in business. They're proof that higher education will get you further in your career. In particular, if you're truly committed to taking on a leadership role, opt for a more tailored master's degree in management and leadership. It will equip you with communication, team-building, and critical thinking skills. You can even take a unique concentration like health administration, resource management, or marketing, so you graduate into your chosen career path ready to tackle industry-specific challenges.

If you're working your way up in your current organization, you can also try immersive training programs to give you the edge you need. Birkman gives new or aspiring leaders the confidence, emotional intelligence skills, and self-management ability to drive awareness, action, and better results for both now and in the future. Ultimately, expanding your skillset helps you be proactive and kickstart your leadership career in the best possible way.

Leadership is no easy feat, but an endless drive to succeed will get you where you want to be. Knowing what's in store can help you discover if you truly have a passion for leadership and give you the determination you need to discover your full potential.

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