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Top In-Demand Skills for Executives in 20206 min read

December 17, 2019 6 min read


Top In-Demand Skills for Executives in 20206 min read

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Workplace dynamics and business trends are evolving at a rapid pace, eliciting new requirements for executive level positions across industries. As companies become more technical, lean, customer-driven, adaptable, creative or socially conscious, business leaders are required to master and understand the skills that can steer operations towards these ever-changing horizons.

As we enter the new decade, it’s worth evaluating how your qualifications and skill set measure up in a competitive business landscape. 

Do you feel ready to take the executive position you want and perform at a high level? Why not learn something new, bulk up your skills and hopefully enjoy yourself in the process? 

Executive education is a simple, concrete path toward gaining the skills that are in demand among top companies today. If you feel stuck in how to improve your value and marketability, earning an executive education certificate can help. 

The following top in-demand executive skills for 2020 are a good place to begin considering the ways that you can step up your game in the C-suite. 


What do design thinking, strategic branding and customer satisfaction all have in common? Aside from being among the top focuses for business executives today, they are all practices that put the customer first. Customer-centricity may not exactly be a skill, per say – but it’s an important way of thinking that can be learned and developed.

Customers and users take center stage in today’s economy – so much that Gartner has predicted that by 2020, poor customer experience will have destroyed 30 percent of digital businesses. No company wants to take the risk of folding due to inexperience with customer-centricity. If you make it your job to ensure this doesn’t happen, you provide a value that’s irreplaceable. The great news about improving your customer-driven skill set is that there are plenty of avenues to choose from. 

Programs in Europe:

Customer-centric Strategy for B2B Markets by the Rotterdam School of Management

Driving Growth Through Customer Centricityby Vlerick Business School Executive Education

Building Customer-Centric Organisations by Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education

Programs in North America:

Customer-Centric Management — Mini-MBA™ – by Rutgers Business School

Leadership & communication

The no-brainers of the bunch, leadership and communication are essential skills for any successful executive. It never hurts to improve them and mold them according to specific professional or business goals. 

A true leader is one who can take charge on business issues while maintaining respect and a level of trust in interactions with others – whether that’s through one-on-one employee evaluations, general business negotiations, pitches and presentations, team dynamics or any of the other ways that executives take the lead. Leadership and communication go hand-in-hand.

One area of leadership that is specially relevant and growing is sustainability leadership. This means managing a company while keeping ethical, societal and environmental concerns in mind. Ultimately, a sustainable business positions itself to thrive in the long-term. As an executive in the digital age, you can’t go wrong in improving the skills that build business success over time. Sustainability calls for transparency, diversity and inclusion, which in turn require strong communication skills. 

Programs in Europe:

Leading People and Teamsby the European School of Management and Technology

Programs in North America:

Emerging Leaders Program: Becoming a Transformational Leader – by Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Leadership at the Peak – Center for Creative Leadership

High-Potential Leaders: Accelerating Your Impactby The Wharton School

Programs in Australia:

Advanced Management Program by Melbourne Business School

Technical knowledge

How many times have you heard about blockchain, machine learning or AI and wished you had a better understanding of their applications? An in-demand skill of C-level executives today is technical knowledge, in the form of at least a basic understanding of the technologies that can apply to a specific role. You don’t have to start building AI algorithms, but you should, for example, understand the options for AI-driven tools that can improve your day-to-day or high-level business operations. The same goes for FinTech and cybersecurity; as an executive, would you be capable of exploiting these technologies, and for what end goal? 

Executive education with a focus on technology and technical know-how is extremely common today. That means plenty of options exist for accredited programs. 

Programs in Blockchain

Blockchain Fundamentalsby the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

Blockchain – Using its Potential to Benefit Your Business – by European School of Management and Technology

Programs in AI

Artificial Intelligence for Executives – by IESE Business School

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – by IMD Executive Education

Entrepreneurship & innovation

Coupled with the technological advancement, innovation and entrepreneurship are an ever-present part of today’s business landscape. An executive with innovation strategy or management skills can land a variety of important positions that leverage organizations ahead of the pack. 

The digital age has seen major corporations opening innovation and entrepreneur arms or subsidiaries, with the goal of spurning lean, strategic avenues for growth and expansion. Executives who earn an executive education certificate in a strategic innovation course, or who have direct experience in entrepreneurship, offer valuable know-how to companies who need it most. That being said, these skills can also be beneficial in more traditional C-level roles, where out-of-the-box thinking may be lacking due to rigidity in corporate structure. 

Programs in Europe:

Entrepreneurship & Innovation by HEC Paris

Corporate Entrepreneurship – by the European School of Management and Technology

From Idea to Innovation: Inspiring Intrapreneurship – by Imperial College Business School

Programs in North America:

Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age – by The Wharton Business School

Change management

Every organization undergoes change over time, and navigating it is never as clear-cut as it may seem. Change management is much more than providing orders to a group or setting up a new system only to watch things fall magically into place. Increased complexity, unforeseen roadblocks and resistance to new circumstances are all common challenges faced by organizations undergoing change. Executives who have experience mitigating these risks are a valuable asset. 

Change management involves a hybrid array of skills including communication, project management, group psychology and more. It’s helpful to understand organizational change models, frameworks and dynamics – as well as have knowledge of how people behave when they experience change. 

Here are some excellent options for boosting your change management skills at the executive level.

Programs in Europe:

Understanding and Leading Changeby the European School of Management and Technology

Programs in North America:

Leading Strategic Growth and Change – by Columbia Business School

Driving Organizational Changeby the Kellogg School of Management

Leading Organizational Change – by Booth School of Business

The Positive Leader – Deep Change and Organizational Transformation – by Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Programs in Southeast Asia:

Leading Digital Business Transformation – by IMD Executive Education



For any executives or aspiring executives who seek to perform well at a high level, it might be time to align your skills with what is in-demand for 2020. Executives have a real chance to make great organizational transformations, lead significant scale-ups and smash business goals out of the park. It’s up to you to master the skill set to make it happen.

A surefire first step in the right direction is an executive education course. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, do a quick search in the most comprehensive listing of executive education courses around the world. 

No matter your resolutions for the year ahead, we know you won’t regret making strides towards improving your performance and success as an executive in 2020.

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