The most in-demand skills for leadership around the world

What separates leaders from the rest of us? Are there any defining skills or traits that make some of us more suitable than others for leadership in the workplace?

It’s generally accepted that the more senior you become in your job, the more financially reimbursed you will be. In Sweden, for example, the average top-level manager is paid 76,427 SEK per month compared to the average Swedish salary that sits on 46,000 SEK per month.

In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, managers, directors and senior officials are paid an average salary of 93,582 SEK per month, while legal professionals — one of the UK’s best paid professions — earn an average of 79,568 SEK per month.

But how do we measure the skills that are most likely to ascend jobseekers into senior roles? To find out, we have analysed more than 530,000 live job ads to reveal what the most common soft skills and hard skills are to be asked for.

Just 26 in every thousand job ads in Sweden are hiring for top-level seniority

Compared to the rest of Europe, directors, CEOs and senior management roles are in fairly high demand in Sweden — with the 10th highest demand for them both in Europe and around the world, compared to other OECD countries.


The country with the highest relative demand for leadership positions is Iceland, with 67.6 in every 1,000 job ads (or 7%) of jobs requiring senior leadership-level experience.

Teamwork is more valued for Swedish leadership than any other hard skill or soft skill

In a rapidly changing job market where leaders can be expected to specialise in many skills (both hard and soft) it is teamwork that ranks highest among the most in-demand skills for employers looking to hire a leader in their ranks.

More than 5% (51.7 per 1000) of jobs in Sweden advertising for CEOs, directors or senior management require teamwork of their applicants.

 

Teamwork is the most in-demand skill overall, even over 2022’s most sought after hard skills for a variety of job roles. Ignoring soft skills for a moment, we can see that the most in-demand hard skills among Swedish leadership roles are business analysis (192.6 per 1,000 jobs), sales (20.9) and cloud computing (18.7).

 

Does the rest of the world also prioritise the same leadership skills that Swedish employers do?

Globally, communication is the most important skill among leaders 


Unlike in Sweden, the rest of the world is more concerned with communication skills in order to be hired in a senior leadership position. 565.2 in every 1,000 global job ads require ‘communication’ as a skill, with teamwork (455.4 per 1,000) being the second-most desired skill and collaboration (97.4) the third-most sought after by employers.

 

What is the difference between teamwork and collaboration in leadership?
People in positions of leadership are often expected to create effective teamwork among the people they lead, and to work collaboratively with their fellow senior colleagues to make collective key decisions that influence the business.

Leaders who can sell have the best job opportunities around the world

The ability to sell yourself, your product, your company are gospel traits in the world of work. It’s perhaps no surprise to see something that depends so much on the soft skill of communication sitting at the top of the world’s most in-demand hard skills.

As of March 2022, 237 in every thousand job ads seeking a CEO, director or senior manager were asking for sales skills and/or experience as part of the role they were hiring for.

 

Sales is an ancient-old technique, which is far ahead of newer technology-led hard skills such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and UX design. Each of those skills at a senior leadership level have less than 1% demand among global job adverts.

Spain has the world’s highest relative demand for four different soft skills in leadership positions 

 

While communication is the most sought-after soft skill globally for leadership job roles, the level of demand does differ when we compare what percentage (per 1,000 job ads) of ads actually require each soft skill of senior applicants. 

Despite this relative demand being different in each country of our analysis, we can see that Spain still has the highest demand for four different senior soft skills — collaboration (148 per 1,000 job ads), creativity (99), persuasion (12) and emotional intelligence (6). 

Elsewhere, we can see that demand for team work is highest in France (161 per 1,000 job ads), communication in Ireland (148) and adaptability in Canada (76).

Methodology


Our analysis considers more than 536,000 global job ads on LinkedIn for senior leadership positions across all industries. Our definition of senior leadership is any job ad that is advertising for a CEO, director or senior manager. Each job ad was analysed to see which, if any, skills from a seed list of the 20 most in-demand soft skills and hard skills as of 2022 were present. We also broke down our analysis by OECD countries. Any OECD country with fewer than 1,000 leadership job ads wasn’t considered in our ranking of hard skills and soft skills per country. The number of senior job ads per skill and per country was extrapolated by the overall number of senior job ads (per 1,000) in each location.

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Leadership

We acknowledge that there is a clear link between good leadership, commitment, achievement and results. This is something more and more people are realizing. Unfortunately, few people know how to follow through, to activate and follow up on leading change together with their employees. However, we are confident and want to share our knowledge with you.

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