Business Now Requires These Skills – Are You Ready?

Jim Ludema Ethics, Trends, Values-Driven Leaders

Business Skills | TrendsThree Trends in Business – The Skills You Need for the Future

Note: A version of this post first ran in Crain’s Chicago Business, print version. 

Jack Welch said a leader’s job is to consider the future and see the organization not as it is, but as it should be. That is important, but to succeed, executives must first answer a more fundamental question. Who do we need our people to be?

I propose that three skills are increasingly important for leaders:

Ethics – A survey of global leaders recently put ethics at the top of the necessary leadership competencies. In an age of hashtag activism, the public demands that leaders have a strong moral standard. The workforce, especially younger employees, expects it too.

For more on ethics as a growing trend among business leaders, please see:

  • Study finds ethics as top leadership competency for the future – article here
  • Should ethics be a mandatory part of the engineering curriculum? A Ford chief engineer shares his reflections – article here
  • Video: Honesty & integrity lead the way. One CEO’s story, video here

Emotional intelligence – “Reading emotions” is not in the curriculum of most MBA programs, but no competency better indicates leadership capacity. A leader without self-awareness and empathy is really no leader at all. Master those skills, and you’ll earn the influence that makes you effective.

Read more on emotional intelligence at these links:

  • How exceptional leaders make time for people – article here
  • One customer service expert’s tips for emotionally intelligent leadership – article here

Creativity – The World Economic Forum issued a 2015 report that put creativity at the number three spot for most needed skills. I’m not surprised. The most capable leaders I work with are deeply creative. They see possibilities where others see limitations. They get excited about ideas and putting then into practice. Isn’t that who we want leading?

Explore the ways creativity can change your leadership:

New Program Helps Leaders Master the Future Skills of Business

At Benedictine University, we’ve launched a new M.S. in Values-Driven Leadership program designed to equip people for senior leadership roles. Ethics, emotional intelligence, and creativity play a central role in the curriculum. Why? Because we think the future of leadership depends on it. We invite you to learn more. Visit and request more information today.


Jim Ludema, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership and a Professor of Global Leadership with Benedictine University.


Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash

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