Leadership Skills in the New Economy

What does it take to guide the troops?

What new management skills and personal attributes does a leader need to thrive in the new Digital Economy? None. Or so says a new report from AT Kearney.

In their latest report, AT Kearney surveyed 1,311 business managers at large and small companies on what leaders need to know in the New Economy. The top three managerial skills, respondents said, were operational skills, the ability to strategically develop and implement and an understanding of emerging technologies.

Personal traits or characteristics also resemble traditional views. The top three were communication skills, integrity and vision (a tie) and the ability to coach or mentor.

"Despite all the attention focused on e-business, today's business leaders say the skills you need to win in the Digital Economy are many of the same skills that have always been necessary for success," said Doug Aldrich, a vice president with A.T. Kearney and leader of the firm's e-services initiative.

Those attributes often ascribed to the New Economy ranked near the bottom of the survey. Risk-taking and passion received 19 and 17 percent respectively. Empathy got the nod from only six percent.

The survey does indicate that significant changes are afoot, however. Apparently, vertical industry knowledge and experience is not as important as it used to be. It garnered only 20 percent support. Maturity is another skill that has slipped in value.

One other diminishing skill may be the source of all those dot-com woes. Only 10 percent cited the ability to analyze and manage financial metrics as important. And if the goal of a business is generally to make money, doesnt it make sense to know how to analyze it, manage it and use it effectively?

Aldrich cautioned, It's far too early in the digital revolution to see the future with total clarity. Many of today's business leaders, who are older and more experienced, clearly value the skills upon which they built their careers. How transferable these skills ultimately will be to the Digital Economy, and whether new skills will replace them, remains to be seen.