“Your true test as a leader is to inspire greatness when mediocrity is acceptable.”

– Dan Waldschmidt

Quotes like this get people pumped to be effective leaders. Yet it is no easy feat.

Indeed, some qualities required for effective leadership has stood the test of time, such as decisiveness and conflict resolution.

On the other hand, technological advances and a globalised marketplace has called out for new leadership skills in order to thrive. For instance, being able to communicate compelling missions in the midst of top talents is a highly-demanded skill globally.  

In this list, we have highlighted top skills needed for effective leadership in the modern age, accompanied by useful resources for further reading.

To break it down, they are:

  • Providing Clarity & Ambition In Your Vision
  • Sharing Captivating Narratives Through Storytelling
  • Cutting Through The Noise With Your Authentic Voice
  • Amplifying Your Influence Through Persuasion
  • Building An All-Star Team With Hiring & Delegation
  • Developing A Compelling Online Presence
  • Building A Culture That Attracts The Best Talent

Let’s dive into it!

#1 Provide Clarity & Ambition In Your Vision

In a chaotic environment where industries are constantly experiencing disruption, strong leaders are being sought out to navigate the way for their followers.

In the above video, Simon Sinek covers the psychology behind people unifying behind a common cause. As a human species, our survival boils down to surrounding ourselves with people who believe what we believe in. That is where articulating a compelling vision comes into play.

One example was the late Steve Jobs. While he had personality flaws such as being unreasonable and eccentric, his fierce vision enabled Apple to be successful.

Leaders can learn from him by setting ambitious and clear goals that make their teams strive for causes bigger than themselves.

Here are some resources to help you craft a compelling vision: 

How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek

Why the Best Leaders Set Unreasonable Goals

Leadership Success Always Starts With Vision

3 Key Concepts For Successful Goal Setting As A Leader

#2 Share Captivating Narratives Through Storytelling

Storytelling has shifted from the bedroom to the boardroom.

Since the caveman days, storytelling has been instrumental in communicating messages. In a digital age saturated with content, it’s function is about to get even more important.

In the above video, Gary Vaynerchuck talks about how brands and people need to step up their game in telling stories. Given that we live in an attention deficit world, the volume of information we are currently consuming on a daily basis is unprecedented. Yet our attention span has shrunk drastically. With the intense competition for attention, crafting compelling stories is your best bet to breaking through of the noise and reach your audience.

Here are some resources to charm your audience through storytelling: 

How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool

7 Tips For Storytelling As A Leader

Storytelling As An Effective PowerPoint Alternative

#3 Cut Through The Noise With Your Authentic Voice

More than ever, leaders are being closely scrutinised. Media platforms like Twitter and blogging had lowered the barriers between them and the public drastically.

Imagine this – You can actually tweet President Obama!

With the lines between your public persona and private self are blurring, this calls for leaders to be congruent and authentic.

In the above video, Brene Brown shares about her studies in human connection – our ability to love, belong and connect. In order to facilitate this, we need to tell stories that builds rapport with our audience. In particular, telling stories that expose our vulnerability.

In contrast to the majority who attempt to pass off as “perfect” online, you give people the gift of viewing you as a multi-dimensional human being.

Hence sharing your vulnerabilities and candid perspectives allows you to build a deep connection with your audience rapidly. This allows them to great connect with your cause at a deeper level.  

Here are some resources to connect with your authentic voice: 

The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown

Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership

9 Ways Amazing Leaders Demonstrate Real Authenticity

#4 Amplify Your Influence Through Persuasion

In the above video, Julian Treasure speaks about how to compel people to listen to you. As the sound expert, he demonstrates some useful vocal exercises and shares tips on how to speak with empathy. This moves practitioners towards a sonorous world of listening and understanding.

In an environment full of competition and distractions, you need persuasion to convince people to join your cause. Hence regardless of what industry you belong to, you are constantly selling.

You are selling to your investors why they should trust that your business will pay back dividends, instead of other available investment opportunities.

You are selling to your customers why they should buy your products, instead of other competitive offerings in the marketplace.

You are selling to your employees why they should work for your company, instead of other companies offering better perks and bonuses.

Here are some resources to help you increase your influence through persuasion: 

9 Habits of Persuasive Business Leaders

The Necessary Art of Persuasion

6 Universal Methods That Will Help You Master the Art of Persuasion

#5 Build An All-Star Team With Delegation & Hiring

In the above video, Joel Gascoigne talks about his journey when growing Bufferapp. One of the key factors that allowed Buffer to grow quickly was through assembling a team of ‘A’ players.

Remember – Great thing are built by teams, not individuals.

Rather than capping your potential based on your individual brilliance, building an all-star team can help expedite your progress towards success.

With outsourcing and collaborative tools emerging, the possibilities are becoming endless. This calls for more decisive yet flexible management styles.

Startups like Todoist and Buffer have popularised remote teams. It will be interesting to observe how other leaders manage this phenomena in the coming years.

Here are some resources to help you manage an effective team: 

How Startup Todoist Manages A Global Team

Successful Delegation: Using the Power of Other People’s Help

T-Shaped Stars: The Backbone of IDEO’s Collaborative Culture

What It’s Really Like To Grow A Team When You’re Focused on Culture-Fit

#6 Develop A Compelling Online Presence

In the above video, Seth Godin talks about the important of Personal Branding. There are three paths to discovering your business: The Company Brand, The Product Offering and Personal Brand.

For instance, people might buy a MacBook Air (Product) from Apple (Company) because they felt impacted by Steve Jobs (Person). By highlighting the people behind the brand, you de-commoditise the business and avoid competing on pricing within the market.

In addition we live in two worlds – the online and the offline.

Hence it is not uncommon for people to search you up online before meeting you in person. As famously said ‘You are who Google says you are.’ Hence you need compelling digital assets such as a LinkedIn profile and website to position your brand.

Yet it is not enough to simply build compelling digital profiles. You need to pour in effort into social networking to grow your connection base. In addition sharing industry-relevant insights helps position you as a thought leader.  

Here are some resources to help you create a compelling online presence: 

5 Ways Leaders Can Be More Like-able On Social Media

Build Thought Leadership Through Social Networking

7 Ways Social Media Has Changed Leadership

#7 Build A Culture That Attracts The Best

Attracting and retaining the best talent is key to leadership. In the above video, Vishen Lakhiani shares about his hiring philosophy at Mindvalley. Rather than enticing employees with high wages, he creates an environment where he can grow and have fun. 

This new mindset switch is especially critical with the global competition for talent. Collaborative tools such as Slack and Skype enables companies to access talent without geographic restrictions.

Beyond providing attractive pay packages and perks such as sleeping pods, you need to build a culture where employees enjoy working in.

Perhaps it’s best you draw inspiration out of these inspiring companies – AirBnB, Zappos and Hubspot.

Here are some resources to help you attract the best talent: 

Don’t Fu*k Up the Culture by AirBnB

The Happiness Culture: Zappos Isn’t a Company — It’s a Mission

The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love

To Recap…

So there you have it – A comprehensive list of resources to follow if you wish to be an effective leader in the modern age.

Just to recap, essential skills to effective leadership includes:

  • Providing Clarity & Ambition In Your Vision
  • Sharing Captivating Narratives Through Storytelling
  • Cutting Through The Noise With Your Authentic Voice
  • Amplifying Your Influence Through Persuasion
  • Building An All-Star Team With Hiring & Delegation
  • Developing A Compelling Online Presence
  • Building A Culture That Attracts The Best Talent

From how we see it, the digital transformation has demanded that leaders step up their game. To be more accountable, empathetic, authentic and human.

This comes with the opportunity to connect with a wider audience and lift people to greater heights.

That to me is pretty exciting, don’t you think so?

Are there any articles, videos or slide deck we should include in this list? Do give us a heads up in the comments below, we would love to check it out.

The following two tabs change content below.

Eugene Cheng

Eugene Cheng is the co-founder and creative lead of HighSpark (formerly Slide Comet, a strategic presentation consultancy serving Fortune 500 companies like: Panasonic, Dentsu, Nike. A self-confessed presentation obsessive, he relishes in building compelling visual content for his agency’s channel and his personal channel on SlideShare and is also a Keynote Author ( top 1% of SlideShare)

Get 9 Storytelling Lessons direct to your inbox!

Join 10,000+ other leaders and learn how to tell persuasive stories that sell your ideas and offerings

Check your email for the opt-in confirmation email!