The #1 Leadership Skill of Successful Next Generation Leaders

Keeping in mind today’s communication shifts, expanding generation gaps, acceleration of technology and the inevitable surge of mobile global workers, what would you say is the #1 skill a leader must embody to become a successful next generation leader?

The #1 Leadership Skill of Successful Next Generation Leaders image Stay Open Get Agile and Lead On 267x300The #1 Leadership Skill of Successful Next Generation Leaders

In August 2011, I had a “dream come true” moment when I got to spend time with my hero, John C. Maxwell (the world’s leadership guru and author of 60+ books), at his home in Florida. I got to meet his staff, tour his office and sit in John’s famous thinking chair hoping something would rub off on me…no such luck I’d say. During my visit, I asked John this question: “What traits will make successful next generation leaders?” His answer: “Creativity and tenacity.”

Wow. The more I reflect on John’s answer, the more and more I think it’s true. And if I can be so bold to take John’s answer one step further and boil it down to the #1 leadership skill that fuels creativity and tenacity. The #1 skill is Agility. I believe this leadership skill will define the next generation of great leaders. Flexibility is no longer sufficient for today’s disruptive prone market. Leaders have to be flexible AND move quickly.

According to, “Flexible” is to be capable or susceptible of modification or adaptation. On the other hand, “Agility” is the power to move quickly and easily; the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly; intellectual sharpness. Being flexible only provides the capacity to adapt where agility involves the action of moving to adapt and positioning to execute. Moving is the key. Stagnant leadership will leave a team motionless which is crippling in a high motion market.

Agility unlocks the leadership traits needed to thrive tomorrow.

  • Agility in thinking leads to creativity.
    Next generation leaders can gain agility in their thinking by asking questions, fostering constant curiosity, relentless reading, embracing the unknown, and feasting on the “what ifs” of the world. The more nimble your thinking becomes, the faster you can combat the never-before-seen obstacles of tomorrow with creativity.
  • Agility in skills leads to tenacity.
    Next generation leaders can gain agility in their skills by embracing technology, upgrading outdated skills, remaining open to new skills, studying emerging trends, forming teams that offset weaknesses, becoming a student of change, getting uncomfortable and doing. Leaders equipped with nimble next generation skills are more able to stay relevant and attack new markets with great tenacity.

Just as athletes achieve physical agility through rigid daily routines and an internal commitment, so must next generation leaders achieve the same agility in their leadership. As generations, social media, and technology usher in a new era of leadership, agility will prove to be your next generation catalyst to keep you creative and tenacious as a leader.

Stay open, get agile and lead on.

Question: How will you be (and stay) agile in your leadership?

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