Tips & Resources
Tips & Resources

From Learners to Leaders

As business environments experience major shifts and grow more complex, there is an increasing demand for new leaders who are armed with 21st-century skills to bring fresh perspectives and drive excellence at the workplace. We explore how you can develop important skills as a student to become an effective future leader.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, 85 million jobs are expected to be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines by 2025. 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms. With these new roles, one of the skills that will be viewed as important by employers in the run-up to 2025 is leadership and social influence.

The Chartered Management’s Institute’s 21st Century Leaders report has also highlighted how employers want higher education students to enter the workforce with practical management and leadership skills.

Why Leadership?


Leadership isn’t simply about a job title or taking on roles in management. It is a skill that exists across all levels of an organisation that anyone can practice regardless of their level or position in a company. Great leaders are those who instil confidence in people and inspire them to work towards achieving a common goal.

Possessing strong leadership skills is essential when you step into the workforce as it will help you stand out as a fresh graduate. It can also advance your career and enable you to achieve your professional goals.

As the world of work changes, soft skills such as being able to think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively will be highly valued as workplaces move from traditional to hybrid work models where employees are given more flexibility. To build trust and connectivity among employees, leaders will need to be more attentive and empathetic to their team members’ needs and be able to take care of their emotional and physical well-being to ensure good work performance. Building your leadership skills can help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

Sally Chua, Managing Director at Q’son Kitchen Equipment Pte Ltd, often looks out for distinctive leadership traits when hiring fresh graduates.

“In this ever-evolving environment, it is critical that leaders have the foresight to navigate through the challenges, and garner support from the company and external clients. They must also inspire confidence and create greater performance and efficiency,” she said.

“We often look out for candidates who are broad-minded, communicative and are highly-motivated while having the agility to take on challenges and the dexterity to improve on existing services or explore better methods.”

Universities and higher learning institutions also play a key role in identifying, promoting and developing skills in students that shape them to be future leaders through various activities such as internships, workshops and collaborative activities and experiential learning.

“Higher institutions play an integral and crucial role in developing individuals with sustainable skills to deal with the process of leadership. NUS achieves this by planting a lifelong power generator within an individual to empower them to lead ethically, have good moral standards, and be trustworthy, purposeful, and self-regulated. They seek innovation, show creativity, and think strategically,” shares Lim Fui Ping, Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Affairs, Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, NUS.

As you step into the next phase of your education, we highlight some important leadership traits that you can hone to make a positive impact when you step into the workforce.

Sharpen your Problem-solving Skills

Sharpen your Problem-solving Skills

Problem-solving is an essential skill that will help you gain success from university and beyond. An effective problem-solver is one who identifies issues, focuses on developing solutions and analyses possible outcomes by applying critical thinking and analytical skills.

At work, there will always be challenges that require problem-solving. Hence, it is a skill that is often highly rated by employers. Employees who are able to bring new perspectives and propose effective solutions are greatly valued. Your ability to demonstrate your problem-solving skills will be key to your success.

While some of us are natural problem solvers, others can hone these skills by practising them daily. Getting involved with activities beyond the classroom can also help you develop your problem-solving ability. For example, joining a co-curricular activity, volunteering, or becoming a peer mentor will give you more opportunities to strengthen your problem-solving skills and work through the challenges that you encounter. Problem-solving skills often take time to acquire and learning how to apply these skills involves good discretion. As you continue to make an effort to work your way through more complex challenges, you’ll be better equipped to surmount future challenges that you may come across at the workplace.

Be an Effective Communicator

Be an Effective Communicator

Whether it’s at school or work, communication is often key in all aspects of life. Being a good communicator can often be transformative for individuals, teams and even organisations. From the likes of Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, some of the greatest leaders were also great communicators. Effective communication has been regarded as one of the most influential tools of all time.

As workplaces operate in a hybrid setting, communication will take place across a variety of formats from online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams to emails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Knowing how to communicate at work will help get your message across with clarity, reduce misunderstandings, build strong bonds of collaboration and foster trust and team spirit.

Leaders at the workplace are often expected to be good communicators because they empower people around them. One key aspect of effective communication is being an active listener. Knowing when to speak and listen is an important skill. When you take time to listen to your team members share their views, ideas, and suggestions, it will help you understand them better and build a good rapport with them as you work together to achieve common goals.

Some of the best ways to build your communication skills is when working together on group projects, taking part in presentations, attending talks and workshops on communication and volunteering for community events. These will help you elevate your confidence when communicating.

Develop Creativity and Innovation

Develop Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and Innovation has always been at the heart of an organisation’s success. As we navigate a post-pandemic world, exploring new ideas and being able to develop fresh perspectives to navigate the complexities of a volatile and uncertain world will empower leaders to give businesses a competitive edge. Being able to think out-of-the-box and challenge yourself with new ideas and ways of thinking will pave the way for growth for you as individual and for your organisation.

Schools and universities in Singapore recognise the need to nurture creativity and innovation. Hence, many of them have developed new ways of thinking and learning and reward creativity and innovation. One example is the SMU-X pedagogy which encourages real-world changes by collaborating on projects with corporates, non-profit and government organisations. This award-learning experiential learning pedagogy enables students to gain fresh perspectives and insights.

As a student or a scholar, you will experience many opportunities to cultivate your creativity and innovation. Some of the ways you can develop your creativity and innovation is to constantly surround yourself with out-of-the-box thinkers and making a constant effort to read up on new creative solutions and apply them at work. By challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone, it will foster your creativity and set you up for success in the workplace.

  Maximise your Potential

Maximise your Potential

While these are just some traits to help you get started, there will be plenty of opportunities that will come your way to cultivate more leadership skills at university. What’s important is to always have an open mind and remember that leadership skills take time to hone. Through constant practice and being unafraid of failure, you’ll be able to become an inspiring and empowering leader in the future.