The 4 Leadership Skills of Future CEOs

How to become the productive leader of the 21st century

The leadership skills that a CEO possesses have little or nothing to do with those required 25 years ago or even what will be demanded in the future.

Globalization, technological evolution and changes in consumer/customer habits are some of the factors that foster transformation in companies, and the CEO is the key player in the adaptation process, especially in order to face it successfully.

The challenges that the new times bring. But, what particularities should they have, if what they are looking for is to prepare for 2025?

Being proactive and decisive, as well as having confidence in yourself and in your collaborators are some of the leadership skills that have become traditional when describing the top executives of a company; however, it is a reality that many of these singularities will not be enough to face the next challenges.

Today we live in an age where new technologies are impacting and transforming companies and their business models in a disruptive way, which forces their leaders to have an increasingly futuristic mind and exploit their ability to anticipate what comes.

The leadership skills that the leaders of a company will have to possess to face the tests that are coming, which I pick up and list below, are also described:

1. Dynamic / Transformational Leadership

In a world as changing and competitive as it is today, it is essential that innovation is found in the CEO’s DNA, not only when building business strategies, but also when exercising his leadership style.

According to Challenges 2025, the current leadership has ceased to be fixed and determined, to become something dynamic, capable of adapting to the challenges to be faced.

Gone is the image of the passive leader, to open the way for those who take risks, who learn from adversity and allow feedback.

In the same way, in the future, we will also look for someone who inspires, who with his management will impact and transform his environment through the empowerment and development of his collaborators, and at the same time will be required to be an advocate of inclusive thinking, which accommodates the collective contribution; These factors comprise the transformational leadership style.

Another feature that will be sought in the leader is that he has a global vision, which contributes to having a complete perspective of the trends in the sector, the region, and other parts of the world.

Regarding this, Andrés Acosta, President of Exxon Colombia, pointed out that 50% of the success of a top executive is in having a strategic and global vision, not only with a day-to-day focus.

In my opinion, the global vision is not an exclusive characteristic of the CEO, but rather that all company personnel must have a broader vision of the business if what is sought is to make a difference in the market.

2. Close to talent

Leaders have understood that managing human talent correctly has a positive impact on business results. Without a doubt, this aspect will gain more force in 2025, especially if what is required are more qualified, involved and committed teams.

Luz Elena del Castillo, General Manager of Central America and the Caribbean at Ford, mentioned that it is not enough that she has the technical skills, knows the industry and the company itself;

The leader of the future must learn to develop leadership skills that allow him to take advantage of the skills and knowledge of the talent that makes up his company.

I completely agree with this, and I would add that, today there are new questions whose answers are only in the hands of the new generations, so CEOs must possess the humility necessary to be able to listen and integrate the different multigenerational and multicultural thoughts that they can exist in your work team; for if something is true, it is that they do not possess absolute knowledge and require openness and humility to absorb it from their closest circle of collaborators.

Continuing with the premise of seeking closeness with talent, Vladimiro de la Mora, Managing Director & General Manager of General Electric Mexico, explained that the CEO of the future will have to be accessible so that his team has the confidence to approach, chat with him, and collaborate more openly.

Undoubtedly, getting people to feel and act as part of the same group is a great challenge, which will only succeed if you have the correct management of the collaborators.

3. Multitasking

According to the results shown in Challenges 2025, having the ability to adapt to various ideas, tasks, activities, and responsibilities at the same time is another of the leadership skills that the CEO will require in the near future; this is classified as multitasking.

This peculiarity is usually also related to having the openness to be able to listen to team opinions and flexibility to continue learning and unlearning as many times as necessary; this even when it is known that a top manager must know the answers to almost all the questions.

However, as a company head we must constantly update ourselves since it is not an option, but an obligation.

Regarding the flexibility to continue learning, José María Zas, President & CEO Global Card Services Mexico, Brazil, Argentina & LAC International Insurance Business of American Express, commented that it should be clear that a CEO does not work on an exact science, so you must imagine and plan for the future, but keeping in mind that there will be a need to make adjustments along the way.

4. Resilient

Having the ability to face adversities, offer solutions and see crises as opportunities will be other fundamental characteristics for a company leader towards 2025.

In this regard, José María Zas explained in the study that success is hardly achieved only because you think that everything is fine, under control and that nothing will change;

There is no case of companies that have reinvented themselves since success because all the companies that reinvented themselves first came into crisis.

To this I would add that adversity can be seen as a two-sided coin, on the one hand, there are the negative aspects, but it also brings with it challenges and opportunities that can be translated into growth.

Finally, I would like to close by commenting that if I have been able to verify something in my experience as a consultant, it is that the business world is changing and it is doing so at an exponential speed, that is why CEOs must have the ability to see into the future, anticipate what is to come and adjust business models according to the needs of the market.

As we saw, there are various elements that, intertwined, will shape the essence of senior executives in 2025.

Even if it seems distant to us, people who occupy a leadership position at that time have to prepare now to assume the position, or if they are already in that position and plan to continue, they should start working on the development or strengthening of leadership that will make a difference, such as being open to learning, unlearning, and building high-performance teams;

These tools, among others, will help them to have more clarity about the challenges that lie ahead.

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