- the ability to write - and perhaps I should state, to write well. Sentence construction, proper grammar (not to mention spelling), using meaningful words, constructing a paragraph that flows...all of these skills that we should have learned long ago need to mastered and kept up over time. For me, the simple act of writing regularly and reading good literature will improve this skill..
- the ability to speak in front of a crowd - similar to above, with the added aspect of having to be seen by people and thinking on your feet. I have never known anyone who does this well on the fly, so write it out (see #1), practice speaking it out loud, and know your stuff cold. And if you use slides, do not bore people with a lot of text...enhance your presentation with pictures and charts.
- the ability to lead a good meeting - leading meetings can take many forms, but above all be sure you are prepared. Having an agreed upon format, using an agenda, engaging everyone around the table, bringing clarity to decisions made, and leaving the meeting knowing that something has been accomplished are all keys to leading a meeting that works. Remember that leaders get their work done in meetings, so you better be good at this.
- the ability to read and understand financial statements - I am still amazed that some people in leadership positions are willing to hand over all things financial to another person, and will take them at their word. While it is important for me to have a capable CFO, it is also important that I understand the financial position of the organization, what that means on any given day, and can then explain it to others in my circles.
- the ability to use social media - one of my pet peeves is leaders who choose (and often adamantly choose) not to engage in social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, etc)...for me, that is like saying one does not engage in writing, speaking, or leading meetings. A leaders of an organization has the chance to put a public face on that organization through social media and to make herself more real to others in the public. I am not advocating letting the world know every time you go out for dinner...I am saying that social media is a tool to enhance and grow the business (as well as one's own leadership).
These are my five for today - what am I missing? Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below - and perhaps even recommend some books that people might use to enhance their skills in these areas. My book recommendation for today is Patrick Lencioni's Death By Meeting - a great text to help you think about meetings differently.