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Leadership and management skills:


Leadership and management skills encompass a range of skills associated with people management, self-management and change management.

Planning, problem-solving and decision-making are all skills which pertain to leadership and management. Other major aspects of managing and leading include supervision of others, the ability to delegate tasks, and to effectively manage yourself and your workload.

COVID-19 impact

Self-management, planning and people management skills have been necessary to guide teams and co-workers, along with strategic and innovative thinking, to protect and ensure business continuity and recognise potential opportunities. As highlighted in the PwC article, How to Redefine Employee Experience for the Post-pandemic World, leaders have been required to rethink processes, physical setups, and safety measures for customer-facing, factory and field workers and create a virtual workplace for remote workers.

The NAB podcast Small Business View Podcast: leadership and resilience discusses the importance of leadership and resilience skills of business owners in the pandemic climate and how they can be used to help small businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

The Australian Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management Industry Sector Annual Update 2021: IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work report reveals with the industry disruption due to COVID-19, it has been very difficult to retain or replace workers with experience in mentoring and leadership. As COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of people exiting industries (those with ageing workforces have been particularly affected), it has left fewer workers who would normally be relied upon to assist in the development of the next generation.

Research shows Indigenous Australians will play an important role in Australia's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term economic prosperity. The National Indigenous Australians Agency report National Roadmap for Indigenous Skills, Jobs and Wealth Creation outlines how fully activating and supporting Indigenous Australians to gain the skills and confidence needed to enter into jobs, upskill into more technical, managerial and leadership positions and to establish and thrive in their careers, will be a key part of Australian businesses resolving skill and workforce shortages and the Australian economy's future growth.

Industry skills needs

The 2020 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum shows for Australia, leadership and social influence skills were ranked fourth of the top 15 skills identified as being in high demand by the organisations surveyed. In addition, Leadership and social influence was also identified in the top 10 list of skills currently in focus across reskilling/upskilling programmes.

The podcast Business View Podcast: 2020 in focus – leadership and resilience discussed how businesses’ leadership skills are critical to taking advantage of emerging opportunities. These skills include sound financial skills, resilience, planning skills and decision-making skills. Communication skills and compassion to their workforce also rated highly.

A discussion paper on nursing and midwifery in Western Australia found nurses and midwives must actively engage and contribute at all health leadership and policy levels to determine the way forward for the WA health system. The report also stated nursing leadership is vital in the aged care sector, where clinical leadership and management to address the increasingly complex health issues experienced by this population will enhance care, health outcomes and sustainability. The number of Aboriginal nurses and midwives in leadership roles must increase to ensure a culturally safe and diverse workforce.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC)’s report Delivering for Tomorrow: APS Workforce Strategy 2025 notes long-established leadership capabilities, such as conceptual and analytical thinking and strategic planning, remain essential; however, soft skills - such as the ability to engage with multiple stakeholders and effectively mobilise diverse teams - are core leadership capabilities for the future. The report also identifies the top people management and leadership development needs within the industry as:

  • Leadership – leading and managing through change, uncertainty and transformation
  • People management – centred around managing remote teams, developing high-performing teams, staff mental health, coaching and mentoring, psychologically safe environments and career management
  • Performance management – including high performance and underperformance, and managing complex and challenging staffing issues.


Internet job postings

Internet job vacancy postings that contained requests for leadership and management skills were examined for occupational trends. This includes skills in leadership, planning, time management, building relationships, mentoring and decision making. The chart below compares the percentage of internet job postings in each occupation (ANZSCO Major Group) that requested leadership and management skills, including communication.

Internet job postings that requested leadership and management skills, by occupation (2018-21)

Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool.

Unsurprisingly, leadership and management skills were most often explicitly requested for managerial positions. However, 34% of managerial positions didn’t contain an explicit reference to leadership skills. This does not mean these skills were not relevant, but more likely indicates that the employers implicitly assume only those with leadership skills would apply for the position. Leadership and management skills were least often requested for machinery operators and drivers, and labourers, but all catagories of profession (with the exception of Machinery operators and drivers) had these skills requested in 20% or more job postings.

The following graphic shows examples of occupations where leadership and management skills are highly requested, and some examples of the types of requests employers are making for those in these occupations.

Leadership and management skills requested by employers are usually related to communication or planning skills. This ranges from communicating with internal and external stakeholders, training and developing high-performance teams, and demonstrating strategic thinking, analysis, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities.


Case study

Case Study: Government

The Public Sector comprises federal and state/territory governments, statutory bodies and state-owned corporations. Public Sector employees play a key role in the development, review and implementation of government policies and provide an array of services for the community, and incorporates the following areas:

  • Government Services
  • Interpreting and Translating
  • Local Government.

The report Delivering for Tomorrow: the APS Workforce Strategy 2025 represents an enterprise-wide view on how to equip the Australian Public Service workforce to tackle immediate and emerging challenges. A key area of focus through to 2025 in this report is to ‘Strengthen integrity and purposeful leadership’.

The following quotes from the report highlight the importance of leadership and management skills in the industry:

Development of current leaders to build strong future pipelines for senior leadership roles is a key talent management focus in any organisation that emphasises its leadership capability.

Leadership can be exercised by anyone, regardless of position, with the capacity and desire to affect positive change in the APS. Leadership behaviours and attributes which inspire, develop and direct others to achieve APS goals can be built and retained both within the APS and in the market.

Leadership is about inspiring and energising people to tackle challenges and find solutions that benefit the nation. This includes engaging people to bring about change, to innovate, collaborate and move towards a new vision of the future. It also includes challenging current thinking and ways of working to deliver better outcomes for government and community. In this environment, being adept at working with multiple organisations and systems is just as important as technical expertise in delivering outcomes

Continuing to build leadership capability will be a high priority for the APS as the workforce adapts to rapid change. This must be supported by a range of interventions that encourage individual and organisational commitment to continuous learning.

Updated: 29 Mar 2022
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