Leadership skills becoming greater priority for 2024

Leadership skills are becoming more important in the workplace, especially for navigating organizational change and leading teams through changes in 2024, according to Coursera’s Job Skills Report.

In addition, 7 out of 10 of the fastest-growing skills are business skills, with digital marketing and customer experience skills topping the list.

“In my conversations with governments, universities, and businesses worldwide, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges of navigating these profound shifts,” Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, said in the report.

“These challenges range from preparing workforces for an AI-augmented future to reimagining educational certifications to meet industry demands,” he said. “It’s clear that forward-thinking businesses are gaining an edge by focusing on training that emphasizes practical, job-relevant skills.”

In an analysis of Coursera enterprise learning enrollment from 2022-2023, AI-related skills drove record-breaking course enrollments. The online course platform offers more than 800 AI-related courses, which received more than 6.8 million total enrollments during the past year. In fact, one course received 43,000 enrollments during its first week, making it the fastest growing course in 2023.

Professional certificates and specializations are driving changes in in-demand skills as well. Workers are seeking these curated learning paths, particularly those from companies such as Google and Meta, to improve their employability and internal mobility.

Overall, leadership skills increased in rank due to changing macroeconomic conditions and emerging technologies such as AI. Learning leaders will need to increase their focus on cultivating skills such as empathetic leadership, team building and team management. The fastest-growing leadership skills included people management, negotiation, influencing, employee relations and people development.

“To effect change, the leaders of tomorrow will need to be nimble, compassionate and able to keep individuals and the business aligned,” according to the report.

In the evolving workplace, soft skills are critical, according to a Business Name Generator report. For new hires, the top skills are communication, problem-solving and time management. For existing employees seeking advancement, the top skill is leadership.

Investing in leadership development can help, where employers see an average $7 return for every $1 spent on training, according to a report from BetterManager and The Fossicker Group. Leadership development led to increased revenue and sales, as well as cost savings due to higher retention and lower recruitment costs.

Although workers say they want a skills-first approach, employers often struggle to make the shift, according to a report from EY and iMocha. Integrating skills data into HR processes remains a major challenge, but placing a priority on HR objectives such as career pathing and internal mobility can help.