Recently a new study by the Marketing Society has asked 50 Chief Executives and Entrepreneurs about leadership skills needed post-recession.

In the past, the attributes identified would likely have been linked with vision, personality and being business savvy.  But interestingly post-recession the most critical skill that a Chief Executive should have was identified by the study as ‘strategic thinking’, closely followed by customer focus and clear communication.

For those in the HR profession, the message about strategic thinking rings true there as well; they are encouraged to become strategic partners with a focus on ‘the end’; the businesses reason for being – its mission, what it is trying to achieve, how objectives and business activities contribute to that mission.

It’s not surprising though that customer focus is high on the list of attributes; given the economy and the need for competitive advantage, it is vital to understand what the customer needs by talking to them and even bringing them into the boardroom and working in partnership with them.

Linked to this is recognition of the need to be flexible whilst remaining pragmatic and realistic.

This fosters a vision of promoting engagement, not just employee engagement, but from a wider perspective too, with customers, the bank, suppliers and the community as well.

Another interesting characteristic that the study identified is that of ‘building the team around you’ which seems to move away from previous thoughts about the visionary leader, rather now being surrounded by people who ‘get where they are going’, have a shared goal and are passionate about supporting the leader.

The Top 8 Essential Skills of Leadership identified by the Marketing Society:

1. Give a clear sense of direction

2. Bring the customer into the boardroom

3. Communicate clearly – inside and out

4. Be flexible but not floppy

5. Take risks but don’t bet the company

6. Build the team around you

7. Listen with humility, act with courage

8. Earn your reward through building trust