Becoming a Leader: Investing in Skills That Are in Demand

  • by Hassan Nasser
Life & Careers

How many times in our academic careers have we been called “Future Leaders”? Every Business School, Social Sciences Department or Graduate Programme likes to market themselves as being best in class at developing the next generation of business and political leaders.

This isn’t to make us feel better or to burnish our egos; it’s a response to a fairly imminent crisis in the corporate world. It has been estimated that 70% of North American and 88% (!) of Asian businesses experience a “dearth of leadership talent”.

What this says to me is that the labour market is no different from any other market. The forces of supply and demand dictate hiring practices as much as anything else; and if the above statistic is anything to go by, we’re lacking leaders. Logically speaking, if you want to make sure you’re an in-demand candidate, you should be looking at ways to develop and evidence leadership skills at every opportunity.

This sentiment was echoed at a recent conference I was able to attend on the topic of Youth Empowerment- organised by Ashoka, one of our Knowledge For Good partners, and supported by the Fossil Foundation. The conference was aimed at unlocking the potential of the labour force’s most populous group - the Millennial Generation. One of the reasons given for the lack of millennial engagement is that many of us don’t invest in the types of skills that are in demand. These included:

  • Leadership Skills: can you show evidence of your ability to motivate? Influence diverse stakeholders in different ways? These experiences could come from society or student council positions, captaining sports teams etc. and are good signals to employers that you’re already familiar with some of the tests of being a leader.
  • Critical Thinking: do you read between the lines? Can you quickly and critically assess a problem or idea? Attacking situations and the status quo from different perspectives is a sign that you’re able to challenge existing norms and disrupt inefficient processes. AlphaSights wouldn’t be where it is if no one ever asked “wouldn’t it be better to do it this way?”
  • Results-driven mindset: do you prioritise output and results? Are you able to distil strategy and ideas into an operational plan and operational execution? In a business context, this means getting excited about revenue, profit and client experience. At AlphaSights, we keep our results and the output of our work front of mind.

Creating a CV that covers some of the skills above will go a long way to showing any potential employers that you’ve invested in yourself, and they should too.


Hassan joined AlphaSights in October 2013 and is now a Manager in our Hong Kong office.