With remote workforces, technological disruption, and an increasingly competitive global economy, transformation in business has become the norm. Navigating these changes requires strong leaders who are willing to work in new ways to improve value, not just for shareholders but also for employees. Take the next step towards leading a 21st-century workforce with an online short course from the University of Cape Town.

Alongside global market and industry shifts, the definition of a business leader is also changing. Where once the focus was solely on delivering short-term profits, leaders are now expected to create value throughout an organisation. This calls for a new class of leaders who can draw on the full talent of an organisation to achieve business objectives. However, the term leader is no longer reserved for those in the C-suite: a leadership skill set benefits employees at all levels, promoting positive working relationships and employee experiences and contributing to better workplace culture.

A 21st-century leader must be a proficient communicator and have strong interpersonal skills. Today, this involves digital communication and online collaboration. Being an effective leader requires an understanding of ethics, cultural sensitivities, and interpersonal relationships. Developing skills for impactful communication can help managers and business leaders cultivate their own unique leadership style while also providing a foundation on which to navigate change, disruption, or even crisis.

With change being the only constant in the modern world, change is more significant than ever. Change management is transitioning from the current set of practices to new ones without obstructing the ongoing workflow. Leaders who can anticipate, plan for, and support change can ensure that a business stays ahead of disruption, rather than constantly relying on the adaptation of old systems to new contexts. More importantly, change management is about people. Failure to carry employees through change can reduce productivity and motivation and loss of cohesion across the organisation. Skills in leading change management are increasingly relevant as technological advances shake up traditional business functions. Although every organisation is unique, best practices exist to ensure a structured and planned approach to renewing an organisation’s systems and operations.

But it’s not only ways of working that are being disrupted; the digital era has ushered in a new calibre of working professionals – the technical specialist. The goals and incentives of technical professionals often differ from those of other employees and require a different leadership style. Managers and business leaders in all industries will increasingly need to work alongside technical professionals. They can benefit from a set of management tools tailored towards operating in this innovative and dynamic environment. Similarly, technical experts moving into management roles can better support their teams and meet business objectives by developing management competencies and applying them within their field of expertise.

Underpinning any thriving organisational culture is a recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I). Beyond the moral case for improving D&I, there is growing evidence that organisations leading in this space perform better about business profitability, innovation, decision-making, and employee engagement. Whether on a personal level or within the work environment, uncovering and analysing unconscious biases, prejudices, and workplace discrimination is beneficial for both you and your organisation. Developing a hands-on D&I plan can help you support business objectives such as improved reputation, employee attraction and retention, and overall company success.

Enhance your leadership skill set with an online short course from UCT. Learn to lead for change and support a modern workforce, backed by a formal certificate of completion in one of the many relevant fields of business leadership.