It wasn’t that long ago that being a leader meant being the most assertive, driven, autocratic and demanding person in the room. Exemplary leaders of the last few centuries have been innovators, thought leaders and icons with unshakably confidence in the direction they were leading their business. One can only imagine how intimidating and exhilarating it must have been to have the opportunity for an ‘audience’ with such a Chief. Indeed, who needed Klout, in a time when reportedly the likes of Jack Welch and Steve Jobs could cast their vote on your future success within seconds of meeting you, and watch lists of the Top 40 under 40 either made or broke your career aspirations.
In fact, many tomes still espouse the ideal scenario of the leader who sets a clear vision for the future and then works with his/her team to steer all efforts in that singular direction. Many discussions on change management continue to perpetuate the myth that all it takes to motivate people is to paint such a compelling and aspirational image of the future that people are eager to jump on board and do whatever it takes to get there.
Then Jim Collins set a ball rolling with the epic “Good to Great” suggestion that charismatic, celebrity leaders may not provide the greatest return on investment for their organizations. The humbler, more humanistic level 5 leader become an interesting dichotomy for those who aspired to the corner office enough to read Collin’s book. People started to question if unwavering (some might call dogmatic) determination to set a strategic direction and then continue to pursue the vision come hell or high water was the most appropriate model for business success.
Along with the shift introduced by Collins, has come a not-to-be-ignored groundswell of people looking for more purpose in their work. Gen Y’s demands to be heard, the Linchpin’s drum beat of contribution, the Free-Agent and Drive nation stating that if their leaders wont recognize their talents they will up sticks and move elsewhere. All have crescendoed into the emergence of a new type of leader – The Leader as Facilitator.
The current batch of leaders to inspire a generation are clearly still assertive and confident in their own intellect and creativity. But there is space in their hearts and their egos for the contributions of others. They collaborate. They recognize and admit the areas where they are not strong and seek openly to complement their absence of strengths by working with others. They seek input, take direction and listen and support the ideas of others, sometimes in preference to their own. When they have a clear idea of what they’d like to do – they share it. When they are missing pieces of information, they state clearly what they know and where the gaps are and they ASK for help.
So, are you a 21st Century Leader?
- When you are working with others, do you openly admit what you don’t know and seek help?
- Do you appreciate and value the contributions of others, even when their views and approaches may be diametrically opposed to your own.
- Do you welcome diversity of thinking and behaviour and see it as an opportunity to learn a new perspective?
- Do you take accountability for your actions, and the impact you have on others around you? (intended or otherwise)
- Do you promote and encourage others to think for themselves, try new things, experiment and even fail – without stepping in and trying to ‘correct’ them?
- If people try, and stumble, do you support the learning they have accomplished?
- Are you open to learning from those who are younger, less experienced or less educated than you are?
- Are you willing to show your vulnerability, and your lack of knowledge, in order to open the door for new possibilities?
I know which kind of leader I aspire to be. And like the best role models I have had the pleasure to work with, I admit… I am a work in progress. Long may I continue to learn and collaborate!
p.s. THANKS #UsGuys for the #UsBlogs challenge which inspires this post! I look forward to reading the other posts & attaching their links as an update.
(Updated with the extended Roundup, Thanks Tom!)
- The Leadership Of Friends by Libby Baker Sweiger. @libbytalks
- 10 Leadership Lessons from Twitter by Thomas Moradpour. @tommoradpour
- Follow The Leader by Jonathan Brewer. @houseofbrew
- Global Leadersh…? by Mark Robertson. @markosul
- The End Of The Visionary by Gabriella O’Rourke. @gabyorourke
- 50 Traits I Look For In A Leader by Margie Clayman. @margieclayman
- Recipes For A 21st Century Leader by Mark Babbitt. @youternmark
- A Leader In The 21st Century by Easwar Hariharan. @meindian523
- You Are Not A Machine by Kenny Rose. @grit08
- 21st Century IS Leadership by Todd Randall Jordan. @tojosan
- The 21st Century Leader by Patricia Wilson. @brandcottage
- The 21st Century Leader by Jackie Coughlan. @jackinessity
- Being The Boss In The 21st Century by Bev. @SMBossLady
- 21st Century Leaders Will Be Doodlers by Paul Biedermann. @paulbiedermann
- 21 Century Leadership: The Old Curmudgeon by Allison Aldridge Saur. @aldsaur
- On Leadership: I’m In A Teacher State Of Mind by Paula Lee Bright. @almost60really
- Rebels With A Cause by Freddie Winckler. @lefreddie
- Needed – 21st Century Leaders For An Open World by Karen Lund. @karen5lund
- Soak, Wash, Rince, Spin – Leading In The 21st Century by Patrick Prothe. @pprothe
- Great Leaders Aren’t Born, They Are Made by Don Perkins. @donfperkins
- 21st century leadership: What I learned on the playground by Heidi Cohen. @HeidiCohen