The importance of having great leaders is something that all businesses should recognise. And, in the current climate, senior figures have a huge responsibility for ensuring the future success of their companies. But how much influence has the recession really had on the skills and qualities of these individuals? And how can you ensure you have the right talent in top roles for the long term?

Well it’s been suggested that economic uncertainties have created a new range of challenges, which have tested leaders’ abilities and led to a transformation of skills. But, in actual fact, this isn’t a new phenomenon; the leadership developments would have occurred regardless of the economic downturn. Organisations have and always will face challenges that require leaders to adapt in order to compete in the market. And other factors, such as globalisation, improvements in technology and the continuous evolution of the workplace, have played their part in shaping the new attributes of leaders.

In order to respond to this increasingly complex business environment, there are certain characteristics that make up a good leader. At a&dc, for example, we recognise that there are five elements of effective leadership which form our LIVED model:

– Learning – the ability to learn from one’s experience and apply that learning to new and different situations

– Intellect – the ability to deal effectively with complex and ambiguous information, making sound decisions based   on this analysis

Values – what many refer to as an individual’s character; integrity, honesty, sincerity, trust and respect

Emotion – the awareness of and ability to manage one’s own emotions, as well as those of others

Drive – the engagement aspect of leadership that inspires people into action

To ensure that organisations have individuals with these key traits for the future, they need to start planning today. Worryingly though, in difficult times, a short-term approach to development seems to be more of a priority for many senior figures. But there’s a real danger that, if a company fails to look at the wider picture, it may not have the right people in the right roles to tackle any long-term challenges. It’s important to be prepared now and have a talent pipeline in place, for example, by identifying your high potentials – those individuals who display the skills and capability to progress to senior levels – as they will be a real asset to your team in the future.

A business may have transformed and re-prioritised in order to survive the recession, but there will always be a need to outpace competitors in order to thrive. Leaders will continuously have to adapt to new challenges, so ensure that you act early to attract and retain the best talent with the right traits to do this.