Leadership styles today comes with many labels reflecting that it is not the same leadership as organizations experienced in the past two decades. The terms used to describe leadership today reflect these changes and the still-evolving nature of this phenomenon. Labels include transformational leadership, charismatic leadership/and new leadership, to name just a few.
These various names also emphasize the fact that leadership is multi-faceted. There is no one "leadership." That is, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to leadership.
Should one hundred people be asked what leadership means to them, it is pretty likely that one hundred different definitions would be given. It has even been said that leadership is much like beauty. That is, leadership is also very much in the eye of the beholder.
This further complicates an already complex issue within a dynamic environment. For this reason, leadership must be thought of in broader terms. American society has long been ambivalent about leadership. Part of this was due to the narrow view of leadership.
America has experienced the romance of leadership. The performance of a business (or a ball team) was attributed to its leadership. If the company performed well (or the ball team won more games than they lost), leadership was given the rewards and the credit for the performance. If the business or ball team did not perform well, the administration (or manager of the ball team) was often blamed and ultimately fired.
Then businesses began to explore the possibilities of neutralizers and substitutes for leadership. Many management gurus today have even asked if leadership matters.
How can leadership not matter? Successful leaders provide a sense of direction for the employees of the organization. Without this sense of direction (both strategic and ethical), the organization and its employees could quickly lose their way.
But this is certainly not to say the leadership of two decades ago is the type of leadership needed today. With the changing environment within which organizations operate today, there is a "new" set of skills that characterize leadership. Some are new -- reflecting the challenges of new workforce composition and its accompanying trends. Some are simple -- recycled from an earlier era placing more emphasis on fundamental values -- values that businesses had temporarily misplaced.
In this blog post, we will explore five leadership skills that will be essential in the fourth industrial revolution. Stay ahead of the curve and lead your organisation into a successful future with these skills!
The top 5 leadership skills list required for 2030
- A new view of power
- Empowering people
- Moulders and creators of culture
- Thinkers vs doers
- Leader as a role model
A New View Of Power
With the fall of the command and control manager, there has been a significant shift in the building of power bases in organizations. The command and control manager (and traditional leaders) historically depended upon sources of power inherent in their position within the formal hierarchy. These leaders built capacity based on legitimate, coercive, and reward power.
This does not work as effectively today. The key to building practical power bases in the current environment experienced in business is founded on personal power.
Expert power is acquiring knowledge, skills and abilities applicable to the organization and others in the organization. Possessing knowledge others do not have is power. Leaders today need to maintain critical knowledge.
Referent power has been described as being charismatic. When one has referent power over others, those others want to be like the leader. Others often imitate or mimic the leader with referent power.
Leaders today must recognize that getting things done through people is not the same as it was just a few short years ago. With the extensive use of teams, empowered employees, and participative workforces, the exercise of power based on a formal position in the hierarchy, is no longer effective. Relying on personal power bases (expert and referent power) fits better with the current environment in today's organizations.
Today's leaders genuinely empower people. But they achieve this by giving up power themselves. There is an old saying suggesting you get by giving. This is true when it comes to leadership. The leaders certainly get a great deal in return for giving -- giving control to those with whom they surround themselves.
Responsibility and accountability must come with this control and power. And what is returned to the leader is ten-fold. Loyalty and respect are given to the leader.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for leaders today is recognizing that organizations need many leaders. There are no longer just the "big" leaders at the top of the organizational pyramid. The challenges of today's business require leaders at all levels within the organization. Just as power is now thought to be evenly distributed throughout the organization, so too is it with leaders --they are also evenly distributed throughout the organization today. They no longer reside only in the executive suites of businesses. Instead, leaders must densely populate the entire organization -- being found in every division and department lighting the way.
Moulders And Creators Of Culture
Leaders today have a tough job. The traditional leaders had only to maintain or reinforce the organization's culture. Visionary founders often created the culture, and the firm's leaders performed simple maintenance. It was a question of strengthening the founding values.
Organizations today need more than routine maintenance of their cultures. Leaders, therefore, are given the responsibility of creating and shaping culture. As the world changes, the culture of organizations must sometimes be reshaped to fit better the environment and the organization's overall strategy.
Leaders today must understand the culture-strategy fit and be prepared to help create cultures that support new strategies for the business.
An adage suggests it is possible to lead a horse to water, but it is not possible to make him drink. So too, it is with leadership.
Thinkers vs. Doers
Leaders today must be doers. Historically, leaders have been viewed as thinkers. They thought while everyone else implemented (playing the role of doers).
There are said to be four kinds of people that can be plotted along the two axes of thinking and doing. One quadrant is occupied by those that are neither thinkers nor doers. We may wonder if these people are even alive.
The second quadrant is occupied by thinkers but not doers. They are the people who constantly daydream but can't seem to follow through and never seem to get anything done. But they can talk a good game -- until others get to know them.
The third quadrant represents those people who are doers but are not thinkers. These are characterized as the "ready-fire-aim" personality. They should have thought before they fired. Others seem always to be cleaning up their messes after them.
The final quadrant houses the thinker and the doer -- the person with true leadership potential. Leaders today must have the ability to think -- conceptually, analytically and strategically. But they must also be able to follow through to do. They serve as role models and show others how things can be done.
The Leader as Role Model
Leaders today are more sensitive to the diverse workforce. They can interact effectively and understand the needs of everyone within the organization -- not just a select few who are like them. Their sense of fairness also applies to everyone.
The true leader provides a role model to everyone -- not just one ethnic or cultural group. All groups recognize this leader for what they do and the example set -- not for what they are.
And this leader has high values and ideals. These values are shared with all. A vision of a future state with these values -- these high standards -- is communicated to all the followers. Through this clear articulation, the followers can buy into these values and then learn what they need to do to contribute to this future state's achievement.
This vision is critical in leaders today. Greyhound's former CEO once said it is the leader's responsibility to see the organization not as it is but as it can become. This vision is essential for leaders in moving the organization forward.
These leaders, then, lead by looking forward -- not backward. They learn from their mistakes to incorporate this newfound knowledge into their future endeavours. These people are not wed to the past but seize change as an opportunity for the future.
It shouldn't seem strange that the role of leaders has changed. This role has changed constantly through the decades. As the world changes and the challenges of business change, the function performed by leaders must also change to meet these challenges.
It is only through the changing role of the leader that organizations can keep pace with the changing world in which they operate. Utilizing the "old" leadership in the current environment would result in an organization and its people being out of step with the world.
Read our blog on career advice for other articles around leadership.