The Most Desirable Leadership Skills for 2017

The Most Desirable Leadership Skills for 2017

Each year we all can’t help but to speculate and try to predict what’s going to happen in the new year and as we enter 2017, I can’t help but to wonder what will be the top issues that leaders will face. Based upon my observations in the labor market, a bit of research, and some conversations with other great HR professionals, here are the most desirable leadership skills necessary for a successful 2017.

Surprise! Communication is always a sought-after skill. However, in the new year, I predict it will be even more important that it is now. I am not the only one who believes communication will be key next year. During a conversation with my friend, Dave Ryan, SHRM-SCP, Executive Director of Human Resources, Director of Illinois HR State Council having more than 20 years of HR experience says, “Leaders must become better communicators next year”. Per Dave, leaders will need to reassure their employees that their jobs are safe and any changes should be communicated immediately and respectfully.

Leaders must be more flexible than ever in the new year. More and more job seekers and employees are seeking opportunities to work from home and better work/life benefits. These highly coveted and requested benefits will continue to be in demand. And, with technology being as agile as it is, there is really no reason why most people can’t work from home. Today all you need is a laptop, tablet, dedicated access and video conferencing and voilà, working from home is easy.

Of course, there are some leaders who believe that collaboration is more important than flexibility. However, according to, 1 in 5 Americans work from home. This is a trend that will continue to grow in 2017 and if companies want the best of the best, they must be flexible with work/life balance benefits and employee schedules.

According to a report created by Officevibe titled “The State of Employee Engagement”, 59% of employees wouldn’t recommend their organization as a good place to work. That number is way too high. Leaders must develop the skills to build brand ambassadors and culture representatives who will and can represent the company throughout the community, either in person or online through talent communities, employee testimonies, and social media.

Remember, referrals are the number 1 way to fill a job opening and if employees aren’t referring good people to your company, this could indicate a bigger problem with engagement. By using 360 feedback, exit interviews, performance reviews, Glassdoor comments and anonymous surveys, leaders can use that information to fix any internal issues, improve the company’s reputation and make it a more desirable workplace.

In many cases, this is simply a matter of being more competitive by offering better benefits, pay, and job security. If an employer can offer these things, then they can increase job satisfaction and employee engagement.

On November 18th 2016, published another interesting article titled, “Four Leaders Discuss the Future of the HR Industry” in which the following objectives were listed: the rise of A.I., robotics and innovations, the importance of outsourcing HR to be more efficient, researching employee regulatory laws, and discussed the focus on the recruiting team. I think all four leaders make interesting points, however, I must side with Rohit Paul, Director of Human Resources at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, who says he works closely with the recruitment team to identify high performing teachers and prospective candidates.

The new year will see even more competition in the job market, therefore, leaders must work with the hiring team to design specific solutions and job assessments to bridge the talent/skills gap and land superior employees. Poaching talent will continue to increase. Average job tenure will continue to decline and recruiters must work harder to get the best of the best. Leaders must develop their talent acquisition processes and incorporate talent assessments to ensure they are hiring the right people.

Finally, in 2017, leaders should continue to work on their social media and brand messaging skills. We all know social media is not going anywhere, in fact it will continue to evolve. Social media can be a powerful tool of communication but it can also be very dangerous. Smart leaders will hire Communication Directors to oversee and measure internal and external communications and use social media to help shape and mold the company’s messaging.

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