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The C-Suite Wishlist 2021: 5 skills for Relevant Leadership

Here is a wish list of the top 5 skills that are becoming ‘must haves’ for C Suite leaders in 2021.

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While decision makers will need to exhibit their more humane side in 2021 for their teams, they will also need to upskill themselves simultaneously to remain relevant as the nature of the workplace and workforce changes rapidly. Here is a wish list of the top 5 skills that are becoming ‘must haves’ for C Suite leaders in 2021.

Technology skills

The pandemic has completely transformed the way we transact for business. High-tech skills needed to lead in an increasingly digitised terrain are highly in demand. The Digital Leap that many organisations are taking will create additional problems related to data management, privacy, et al. Today’s digital imperative requires C-suite to appreciate technology and deploy  it for efficiency, productivity, or disruption across all functions. 

The C Suite has already realised the importance of harnessing technology. Travel and hospitality (89%) has taken the lead in AI implementation, followed by technology, media and telecom (86%), financial services (82%), and healthcare and pharma (73%). More evolved leaders will be those who can answer how data can be harnessed to improve decision making and drive organizational intelligence. 

Remote Management (Teams + Clients)

Managing remote teams has quickly become one of the most sought after skills for team leaders. The pandemic unimaginably changed the way we worked, forcing everyone to adapt to the new normal. Communicating; managing; engaging with and addressing employee issues has become a challenge and HR Leaders will have to address this gap and understand the most effective ways of managing remote teams. 

‘Client Communication’ will also need a spin as the inability to meet clients will create a dire need for developing trust and strength in this relationship. We will see an increased usage of project management tools, knowledge bases, video chats and customer service solutions. 


Data breaches have shown a steady increase, and India has seen a 37 percent increase in cyber attacks in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 2019. Due to the evolved nature of the workplace, the medium for communication ( internal or internal ) has diversified beyond contained/secure platforms. Owing to the vulnerability that any electronic communication has, cybersecurity has become a non negotiable priority for organisations. C-Suite members, CISO and beyond, need to ensure that the digital leap an organisation takes is not at the cost of compromised cybersecurity. 

With the increased dependence and proliferation of tech inside businesses, Cybersecurity threats  will be the black swan for companies in this era. 

Empathy and EQ

‘Leaders need to be more empathetic’ is one of the most common pieces of advice that you will see online today. The novel situation at hand has created a flux which almost immediately escalated the value of ‘relationship capital’ for business leaders. 

Emotional Intelligence has emerged as a highly needed skill in 2021. With teams becoming more cross functional and collaborative, differences may arise owing to cultural differences or personal beliefs or simply because of the novel nature of the pandemic. The ability to understand and manage varied personality types will thus be one of the most important aspects of becoming an efficient leader in 2021. 

Building Resilience

The one epiphany that has struck many decision makers in 2020 is that ‘resilience is uncompromisable’. The pandemic has been harsh on many industries, both at a macro and micro level, and while some have managed to remain agile with minimal damage, all have understood the value of becoming resilient. 

The ability to absorb shock, think clearly in crisis situations and find opportunity will be critical. 

Post 2020, organisations will proactively look for leaders who can manage and navigate through disruptive changes. ‘Agility and Resilience’ will emerge as one of the top skills for senior positions across industries. 

In Conclusion

One of the most evident shifts that took place was the focus of what the business is to how it is done. Leadership capabilities are going to continue to shift toward embracing empathy and demonstrating leadership in its full sense. While leading a business has never been a cakewalk, 2021 will put all combined abilities of the C-Suite to test.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Gaurav Chattur

The author is Managing Director and Co-founder, Catenon Asia

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