Soft Skills

The 6 Skills All Business Leaders Should Develop

Chris Haroun

Udemy for Business instructor

November 15, 2018

There are a number of shifts that are dramatically transforming the way people work. Working from home and dealing with distributed teams will become the digital reality of the future. 63% of companies already have remote workers, and this number will continue to grow. Millennials value flexibility in their work environment, and it’s becoming increasingly common for them to hold multiple jobs and side hustles. These changes mean that managers and leaders need to learn new skills in order to adapt. The old approaches to communication and management will no longer apply to this new reality.

Get L&D insights delivered to your inbox

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We may use the info you submit to contact you and use data from third parties to personalize your experience.

At the same time, people and organizations are beginning to realize the traditional approach to education may no longer make sense. In fact, a number of large companies such as Google, Apple, and IBM no longer require their employees to have college degrees. I wholeheartedly believe in this—the most important skill sets aren’t taught in school as college curriculums lag (often decades behind) what’s happening in the real world.

By shifting focus to learning online, especially in places like Udemy for Business, your employees can learn from experts with real, practical experience. This means your employees can hit the ground running right away and apply these skills that they’ve learned. When I see how the workforce is changing, I believe that tomorrow’s leaders and employees will rely on online learning to keep their skill sets relevant and up to date.

Here are the six skills I believe business leaders should invest in today to prepare for tomorrow.

1. Ability to present

Every successful entrepreneur in the world and every CEO is a salesperson. The ability to sell yourself, sell a vision, and get customers and employees excited and passionate about a product or service is a very important skill, and it’s one that’s not taught in school. Giving a great presentation is really about selling from the heart, and this is especially important in the technology sector when you’re often selling something you can’t see, feel, or touch, like cloud computing. I’ve taken my 25 years of public speaking and presentation experience and distilled it into The Complete Presentation & Public Speaking/Speech Course. I believe that a great presentation isn’t just about what you say, but how you present yourself and your ideas and how you understand and connect with your audience.

2. How to motivate people

Given the changes to the workplace with an increasingly distributed workforce and freelance or contract employees who work with several managers, the business leader’s job has changed, too. It’s no longer easy to sell employees on a vision of lifetime employment or loyalty to a single company, which means managers need to find new ways to motivate their employees. And motivation is essential for optimal engagement, retention, and performance. In my Udemy for Business course, How to Motivate Employees (So That Productivity Increases), I cover topics like incentivizing employees without cash-based bonuses, nurturing employees and helping them meet their goals, and improving communication and transparency.

3. How to delegate

As a manager or leader, you simply can’t expect to do everything yourself. According to recent research published on HR Dive, poor leadership is one of the major factors leading to employee burnout. Delegation is an essential leadership skill that will allow you to accomplish more than you ever imagined was possible. But again, this is a skill that most people aren’t taught in school, and it takes some practice and guidance to get it right. In How to Manage by Delegating (So You Can Achieve Your Goals), I introduce a delegation template that covers what to delegate, how to delegate in a way that develops employees and teaches them new skills, how to provide feedback to employees, and how to analyze the delegation process and report on it to senior management.

4. Accounting and finance

Every day, company leaders make decisions that affect their company’s financial performance, but they often don’t fully understand the repercussions of these decisions. That’s why building up some basic accounting and financial literacy can be so beneficial. Michael Clement, an accounting professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas – Austin, writes in a U.S. News article, “Accounting touches all business disciplines and accounting knowledge is important for business planning and decision making.”

In Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling, and Valuation, I share how to create, analyze, and forecast an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. Taking a course such as this one will provide business leaders with the essential knowledge they’ll need to make informed decisions and participate in meaningful discussions on financial topics.

5. Digital currency

The future of currency is digital. The dollar bill we use today is the same dollar bill in size and appearance as the dollar bill from 1933 from the US mint. Monopolies are inherently lazy—they don’t innovate, and paper currency has been a monopoly forever. With digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc., the fundamental way that we engage in online transactions is going to change forever because transaction costs will be lower and the speed of transactions will increase materially using technologies that include blockchain. I think every manager should understand this because many employees are going to be paid through cryptocurrencies. And the blockchain is not just about currency—it’s about transacting in a more secure way, including legal contracts, employment contracts, accounting contracts, and every type of contract that we can think of. Blockchain makes this whole process much faster, more secure, and more scalable. You can think of digital currency in the same way you think of email—you don’t have to create the underlying technology, but you need to understand how the process works. See my course, The Complete Cryptocurrency Course for a comprehensive guide to this topic.

6. How to make an app and/or code

One of the things that’s so exciting about building apps and learning how to code is that it’s something that anybody can learn at any age. There was a recent study from MIT that came out showing that the average age of startup founders is around 42, and at the same time, the global life expectancy has doubled since 1950. Coupled with the fact that there are so many online resources that allow us to pick up new skills for nothing (or for a very affordable price), it means that there’s no limit on what we can achieve. Investing the time in building an app or learning how to code will teach you so much about the way businesses work today. You’ll gain more insight into how the engineering and product teams work, even if you don’t intend to take on a technical role yourself. But you might end up using this as an opportunity to reinvent yourself with these new technical skills. I hear great things about the Udemy for Business courses by Angela Yu and Rob Percival.

The beautiful thing about online learning is that you can learn at your own pace. You can speed it up, you can slow it down, and you can repeat lectures. It’s the democratization of commerce and education. You can learn online any technology skills you want, regardless of your background or where you live or your age. We can reinvent ourselves and fall in love with education again.

Looking to the future

When I think about the future of the workforce, I look at my three sons. Their jobs have not been invented yet, and the way they communicate when they’re my age has not been invented yet, which is really exciting. We all have to stay up to date on technology trends, social media trends, and digital management trends. Everything is changing much faster than we think. We have to learn as much as we can through Udemy for Business and other online resources to keep up and to remain competitive.

Chris Haroun is an award-winning MBA professor, venture capitalist, and author. He’s the creator of the best-selling Udemy business course, An Entire MBA in 1 Course, and he’s been featured in Business Insider, CNBC, Inc, Forbes, CNN, and Entrepreneur.

Udemy for Business is a learning platform that helps companies stay competitive in the digital transformation of the workplace by offering fresh, relevant, and personalized on-demand learning content, curated from the Udemy marketplace. Our mission is to help employees do whatever comes next—whether that’s the next project to do, skill to learn, or role to master. We’d love to partner with you on your employee development needs. Get in touch with us at business@udemy.com

More from Soft Skills Topic

Soft Skills

9 Skills Your Employees Need in December 2018

To help employees keep up with change and prepare for what’s next, Udemy for Business adds hundreds of new courses...

Soft Skills

Celebrate Your Employees This Thanksgiving: 5 Personal Development Courses

Here in the US, it’s Thanksgiving week, which means many people are taking some time to feel grateful for what...

Soft Skills

10 Skills Your Employees Need in November 2018

Udemy for Business adds hundreds of new courses each month on the latest technical and soft skills to help employees...