Is it a difficult time to be a business leader?

Amir Qureshi talks to us about the changing nature of leadership and the attributes leaders must now have to succeed.

There has always been much debate on whether leaders are born or made, but one thing everybody can agree on is that the nature of being a leader is changing. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a successful leader, simply because there are more demands than ever being placed upon us.

For example, shareholders are increasingly involved in the day-to-day running of a business, putting added pressure on organisational leaders to not only deliver more, but also to publicly showcase how effective and efficient they are in leading their team.

As well as pressures from above, modern day leaders are also expected to be more accessible to their employees, by being approachable and emotionally intelligent. To add to the skillset of the new multifaceted leader, they also need to be up-to-date on all functions of the business, from budgets to key messaging to social media, and be politically savvy all in the same breath.

One major reason for the evolving nature of being a leader in the current working environment is the changing mindset and personality of employees. Now more than ever, they feel that a business, and its leaders, have to adapt their style and beliefs, not the other way around.

For years, people were simply pleased to have a secure job, not wishing to rock the boat too much. Nowadays, employees are much more comfortable making sure that the organisation and role are right for them, often using the interview process to find out more about the company before accepting an offer.   

One major reason for the evolving nature of being a leader in the current working environment is the changing mindset and personality of employees.

As a result, employees not only want to see leaders with a strategic vision, making the right business decisions on a daily basis, but also displaying much more humanistic skills than ever before.

Leaders need to be more vulnerable and open with their staff, forming closer bonds and greater friendships, with many of the next generation of talent feeling this is important in a working environment and also generates success.

As times change, so does what people expect from their leaders. In the past, people were put in a position of power either because of longevity in the role or if they were perceived to be ‘intelligent’, ordinarily having been based solely on education and university status.

This just simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Future leaders can get to a certain level based on their ability, but moving up comes down to how well they engage staff, their ability to persuade competitors and charm customers. It is an ever-changing target, and one that will expose those that do not hit the mark.

It is now also fairly common practice for leaders to not only be intelligent (IQ) but also emotionally intelligent (EI), both factors that can also be drawn out through the use of psychometric assessments. This then raises the question of how much of each is needed and what is the right balance. 

Often there is no one size fits all answer, but people need to understand that IQ and EQ must work in tandem, not in direct competition of the other.  

In fact, a research study, conducted by Dr. Mark Slaski suggests that the impact of a leader’s EI extends beyond their relationship with their immediate employees, and permeates throughout the entire team. Results show that leaders with higher emotion perception lead teams with a greater sense of voice and togetherness at work.

This suggests that if leaders are able to recognise subtle emotional reactions and adjust their style accordingly in order to motivate their team, they are able to facilitate a greater sense of trust and cooperation.

When leaders are able to regulate their emotional responses, employees report a greater clarity around their objectives and purpose at work. This implies that leaders who are able to remain calm and composed, are likely to communicate more clearly when delegating goals and tasks, and trust their staff with more autonomy.


About the author

Amir Qureshi is CEO at Thomas International




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