Nobody ever said that being a leader is simple. Certainly not in today’s world where changes seem to happen at the speed of light; where communication and collaboration are heavily impacted by new technologies; where management techniques from the past no longer appear to provide an adequate answer to the challenges of the future. Being a 21st century leader is a role not to be envied! Or is it?
Let’s look at it from a different angle. Today’s business reality offers leaders a number of interesting advantages. In fact, if people look to you for leadership today, you should consider yourself lucky. Why? Let me give you at least 6 reasons.
As a leader in today’s world . . .
. . . you don’t have to worry about how to connect people with each other New technologies make it possible, easy and cheap for people to connect always and everywhere. Employees are used to these new technologies. Great, you can shift your energy to what is really interesting: how to take advantage of these developments and build new and more efficient ways of working together.
. . .you no longer have to put endless energy and time in trying to control change Planning every detail upfront is no longer working anyway. And trying to manage and control everybody’s actions is exhausting, but will not get you the expected results. Management & control quite simply doesn’t correspond anymore to the current speed of change.
Instead leaders need to guide people to embrace change in a different and more flexible way. Stimulating each other to turn it into a learning process in which we grow stronger by finding adequate responses to the changes. In fact, this is not only more rewarding, but also more effective.
. . . you don’t need to try to squeeze people into a one-fits-all culture Businesses are rapidly changing into cross-cultural organizations. Instead of squeezing people into one culture, you now have the opportunity to let them combine each other’s strengths across cultures. You have the opportunity to turn cross-cultural differences into a competitive advantage for your organization.
. . . you no longer have to rigidly hold on to hierarchy as the only way to create successful collaboration In today’s business environment, informal structures are becoming means for successful collaboration. In most organizations hierarchy is no longer a sufficient answer to the business reality. Informal networks can complement the formal hierarchical structure. So instead of fighting informal networks, you can now stimulate and use them to strengthen collaboration, knowledge and information exchange.
. . . you no longer need to focus only on short-term figures and targets Citizens, customers, and employees in the 21st century want businesses to create sustainable and longer-term value. This mindset gives you the opportunity to guide your people to actually build something new together. And this is much more motivating and inspiring than just chasing short terms repetitive targets.
Leaders have the great job to build visions, to stimulate innovation and creation, and to develop ways to execute these new ideas with success.
. . . you don’t need to force yourself to be the almighty boss with all the answers The days where people expect the boss to have all the answers up his sleeve are over. In today’s business complexity you can’t be an expert in everything. Your people don’t want you to give all the answers. They want you to give them the opportunity and autonomy to find the answers themselves.
Employees expect you to give guidance and direction, to raise the right questions, and to let them become the experts. No matter how nice or smart you are, you will be measured by the results you can get others to achieve. Follow this logic and you will end up with a stronger organization carried by competent and motivated people.
Just think about it. 21st century leaders are lucky to have such a great job. Nobody ever said that being a leader is simple. But today’s leaders are surely offered a range of opportunities. What other great aspects of your job do you see aside from these six?
About the Author
Aad is an international business advisor, change leader, senior leadership facilitator, and executive coach. He is founder and managing partner at HRS Business Transformation Services where he works with senior executives and leadership teams internationally on four topics: ‘leading complex change’, ‘cross-cultural leadership’, ‘post-merger integration’, and ‘amplifying business performance’. Find out more about Aad and HRS’ services. If you would like to invite Aad to your organization feel free to contact him here.
Aad frequently writes about leadership, leading change, cross-cultural leadership, and related topics. Find more of his articles on www.leadershipwatch-aadboot.com.