Business skills in the 21st century
Over time the structure of business has changed considerably. In the past, the lines seemed clear. There were those in the company with strategic roles who set policy, and there were those who implemented them. Based on a person's job title, it was usually easy to tell who was who. Exercising good business skills was mostly a matter of following direction. The nature of business has changed, and the idea of what constitutes a business skill has changed with it.
There are notable differences in business itself, resulting from increased globalisation and less focus on what is happening locally. Personalised service is harder to come by as a customer, and in many cases it is even becoming less likely to be sought out. Speed and efficiency are often seen as the top concerns of entrepreneurs as well as their clients, customers, and stakeholders. Businesses are becoming smaller, more specialised and skilled and deeply networked. Now we don’t just niche the markets we seek to serve but niche the work that we do for them.
Cultural diversity is also becoming a high priority since it is necessary to reach customers and prepare for partnerships that can form anywhere on the globe. Once multiple offices in a variety of international locations were reserved only for the largest corporations. But, as smaller businesses network their niche skills this reality is becoming the norm especially with today's technology providing more options to meet this need. Making this happen involves tapping into quality leadership within the business, which also looks different than it did decades ago.
While businesses need to have a sense of clarity when it comes to who is in charge, the way that employees are actually led looks different in a successful business (or even across a network of businesses) of today. Where once the mere presence of power was enough to get people to do their jobs, it has become necessary for true leaders to use their influence in order to move their business forward and get their employees to embrace the same goals. Simply following a traditional hierarchy is no longer effective.
Make Quick Decisions
Whilst business moves ever faster operational decisions also need to be made faster and with more decisiveness. These decisions need to reflect the good judgment of the company, and should prioritize what is most important not only to the immediate needs of the business, but society as well. They must be aligned with the more nuanced and paced strategic focus of the business. Leaders need to pay attention to the political climate, the environmental needs of their community and the world, and show that they maintain a strong ethical stance.
Today's leaders need to be present in some capacity nearly all the time. Technology needs to be effectively incorporated into the business model, and the true leaders and managers need to be available, and not "out of the office,”. Well communicated, mutually understood goals and ambitions for the business help guide, inform and align everyone.
Helping Workers Be Effective
In the old days, if you could type, do basic maths, and particularly if you followed instruction without questioning it, you had a good foot in the door in the world of business. Much more is needed when starting out today. Employees need to present a positive image of the company, whether they are in an office meeting or presenting to a larger network.