Jacob Morgan
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Jacob Morgan

140 Top CEOs Share 5 Most Crucial Skills For Leaders

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Leadership is changing…you as a leader MUST change, and perhaps more important, we should all DEMAND that our leaders change. It’s necessary for the very survival of our organizations.

This isn’t opinion, it’s fact.

Don’t believe me?

In doing research for my new book, The Future Leader, I interviewed over 140 of the world’s top CEOs from organizations like Oracle, Unilever, Best Buy, Kaiser, Verizon, InterContinental Hotels Group, MasterCard, and dozens of others. I also partnered with LinkedIn to survey nearly 14,000 employees globally.

Collectively, these CEOs are responsible for the lives of over 8 million employees and trillions of dollars.

I don’t care if you believe me when I tell you that leadership is changing, but you should believe the world’s top CEOs. They told me that when it comes to leadership, what worked in the past, will not work in future.

Things like globalization, the changing nature of talent, AI and technology, the emphasis on purpose and meaning, and the demand for more transparency means that our organizations are going to look fundamentally different than they did in the past. As a result, we need a new breed of leader.

Research by DDI found that only 14% of organizations have a “strong bench,” which is ready-now leaders who can step to replace those who retire or move on (DDI). Half of the organizations surveyed by DDI say their leaders are not skilled to lead effectively today and 71% say their leaders are not ready to lead their organizations in the future.

If you want to be an effective leader (now and in the future), someone who positively impacts your organization, your people, and your community, then these are the 5 skills that you need to master…and soon.


No matter if they are on the basketball court or in the office, great coaches don’t just tell people what to do, they make people want to actually do it. Coaches help people become better versions of themselves.

Coaches motivate, inspire, and engage people to move them in a certain direction. One of the most important things a leader can do is to create future leaders and make other people more successful THAN THEY ARE. As the workforce becomes more dynamic than ever, leaders must also get comfortable working with people who are completely different than them. As a great coach, your job is to understand similarities and commonalities between yourself and your team. Don’t fear the differences, respect them. Coaches create effective teams by connecting with people and truly understanding them as human beings, not just as workers.

“I see my role as a coach. On one side, I need to produce a vision. On the other side, I need to enable people to deliver this vision and to be comfortable in their ability to deliver, and to make sure that I always push them to their maximum.”

-Michel Combes, CEO of Sprint (30,000 employees).


Most people think of a futurist as someone who predicts the future, but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, futurists help make sure that individuals and organizations aren’t surprised by what the future might bring. This was the most important skill across all the CEOs I interviewed. Futurists consider different possibilities and must be able to identify patterns, stay connected to relevant trends, and scan for signals of what the future might bring. For leaders this means that you have to be more connected than ever to your network. Future leaders must be comfortable thinking in terms of scenarios and have plans in place should one of them come to fruition. This is analogous to a chess player considering various moves on a chess board.

“The fact is that adapting to change is not enough, we need to lead change and create the future. Adapting is keeping your head above water, but leading and creating is sailing on top of it.”

-Alfredo Perez, CEO, Alicorp (10,000 employees)

Technology Teenager

Today’s teenagers are technology savvy and digitally fluent. Leaders of the future must be the same way. Leaders don’t need to understand the details of how technologies are deployed, but they do need to understand what impact a particular technology might have on their business. That means being able to answer questions about the overall technology landscape and how it impacts your industry and business. That broad understanding helps you determine which tools might have the greatest impact on your business and which ones can wait. Jump in — surround yourself with new technology and start playing around with it to see what it can do for your company and your career.

“Tomorrow’s leaders will need to have a technology fluency that lets them anticipate opportunities and threats, distinguish hype from credible, and embrace transformative possibilities.”

-Michael Tipsord, CEO, State Farm (over 90,000 employees)


Translation is the bridge that connects things or people together. Leaders of the future must be translators, or great listeners and communicators. Listening and communication have always been crucial, but they will become even more important in coming years. Communication is what allows you to inspire, connect with, and align those around you, both verbally and non-verbally. Listening is the deliberate effort of understanding someone or something, and it can be very difficult in today’s distracted world. A good listener asks questions that promote discovery and insight, builds a person’s self-esteem, creates cooperative conversations, and explores other paths or opportunities. Future leaders need to cut through the noise to deliver and listen to important messages.

“I’ve always gone through the world where it’s a reverse pyramid. I’m so far from my customers that the most impactful I think that I can be doing is listening, and understanding what’s happening on the front line.”

-Michael Kneeland, CEO, United Rentals (over 18,000 employees)


Leaders of the future must learn to channel their internal Yoda and be emotionally intelligent. The word “emotional” is rarely used in the same sentence as “leader,” yet empathy and self-awareness are crucial skills for future leaders. Empathy is about being able to understand the feelings and emotions of another person and put yourself in their shoes. For leaders, empathy comes into play when trying to resolve a conflict by understanding everyone’s perspectives, developing products or services for customers, or improving collaboration. Emotional intelligence also includes self-awareness, or being mindful of your own emotions, feelings, motives, and desires. At the heart of being Yoda is creating an emotional human connection with other people. Doing so makes us vulnerable, but it also makes us human.

“The first layer of skills a good leader must master are internal: managing himself or herself as an individual human being. This includes physical health; emotional balance; self-knowledge — everything that you bring along with you to each meeting, each decision, each public event. A lot of leaders are tempted to ignore or de-emphasize this most basic layer but they do so at their peril.”

-Hans Vestberg, CEO, Verizon Communications (over 152,000 employees)

Unfortunately, most organizations around the world and most MBA programs don’t teach these skills.

For those of you want to be future-ready leaders and master these 5 skills…

The Leadership Mastery Framework is the only leadership course in the world based on expertise from more than 140 hands-on-in-the-field CEOs (from companies like Best Buy, Audi, MasterCard, Unilever, Verizon, and more). It’s built for striving leaders in every level of their companies and anyone who knows they have more to give to make a genuine impact.

This course is the fast track to leadership mastery for the future. I want you to reach every inch of your full potential and make the supersonic impact you’ve been itching for, and this course will show you how it’s not only possible but vital that you take action.

Enrollment CLOSES ON AUGUST 14th, I hope to see you inside!





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Jacob Morgan

Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of FutureOfWorkUniversity.com. Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work

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