The Leadership Competencies That Matter Most in Today's Trying Economic Times

By Holly Tompson

The context for leadership is dramatically different from what it was even five years ago. Customers are harder to get and to keep, profit margins tend to be slimmer, and lots of employees live in a state of anxiety, stressed by overwork and worries about their jobs.

What's a leader's role in these trying times, and what competencies do leaders need to succeed? i4cp recently conducted a major new study in partnership with the American Management Association (AMA) to find out.

In August 2009, i4cp received responses from about 600 employees working at the manager level or above in a wide range of industries. We found that three competencies clearly came out on top: knowing the business, knowing the customer, and having the ability to execute strategy. In tough times, companies need leaders who know the nitty- gritty details of their companies, and none of the details is more important than knowing the customer. They also need to be able to act on this knowledge, and that means excellent execution of the strategies that serve those customers.

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