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Guide to modern management skills

Good management and leadership will help companies thrive amid changes in the way business is conducted in the 21st century, according to William Buist.

The chief executive of business consultancy firm Abelard and founder of xTEN Club programme said that the structure of business has changed over the years. There is now a greater focus on globalisation, speed and efficiency, while personalised services are harder to come by.

Mr Buist listed four essential skills to run a successful business in the modern era.

The first was to inspire engagement, which requires business bosses to display to their employees, customers and shareholders such qualities as honesty, integrity, insight and courage.

He said: “They need to respond to and effect change within the company, and within the business world in general.”

Furthermore: “Employees need to be presented with opportunities to be creative and have their thoughts and opinions truly heard.

“They need to network more, engage in social media, and be prepared to respond to feedback, both positive and negative. Developing and communicating simple and responsible policies, such as recycling, can all help present a positive company image to the world.”

Mr Buist added that social media needed to be monitored and responded to quickly.

The next skill required company heads to make prompt operational decisions more decisively, prioritising what is most important both for the immediate needs of the business and society, Mr Buist said.

The third necessitated the need for bosses to be present in some capacity nearly all the time – although, with virtual options, being ‘chained’ to the desk was not only unnecessary but also not cost-effective for most businesses.

The last step was to help employees be more effective. Mr Buist deemed public speaking skills essential, while the ability for workers to be able to manage difficult situations by themselves was also vital.

He said: “Employees need to present a positive image of the company, internally and externally.

“Employees are presented with opportunities to help one another do their best by exercising good teamwork skills. Having a sense of when to talk and when to listen is an invaluable skill.

“They need to have humility and be willing to do work they are ‘over-qualified’ for. There are learning opportunities in every situation, if they are able to set the right priorities within their own role and exercise good time management skills. Beyond their workday, it is important to remain informed about the industry overall.”

Commenting on the increased focus on globalisation, speed and efficiency, Paul Lindfield, director of wealth management at Manchester-based Sedulo Wealth Management, said: “I completely agree. We have implemented a live chat service on our website to make it easier for people to interact with us. We have converted quite a few clients this way.”

He added: “I think that having a good bank of professional IFAs that you can refer specialist cases to has become more important. You should not be scared to say that you are not best suited to give advice on a particular area.”