What does it take to lead in today’s workplace? One thing is certain; leadership has been disrupted and is vastly different from what has come before. Business is rapidly changing with uncertainties abound. Old top-down control models are extinct, a new collaborative leadership model has emerged and though it may feel chaotic, it's an opportunity to redefine leadership and inject deeper community, connection and true participation into the workplace.
We know change is the norm. Today the challenge is not about getting ready for change or implementing the right change program; it’s about operating your business in a way that the enterprise is ‘always on’ and ready for change. It’s about developing strength in your implementation skills to constantly execute change.
There is an age-old saying: ‘businesses are managed but people are led’. Today, the future of business is still people. With the right leadership style, the power of your people can be unleashed and true potential realised. For the first time, leaders have the opportunity to make an extraordinary difference to their people, the businesses they lead and to the communities around them.
In this new world, modern leadership must be redefined and new skills developed. The modern leader needs to have phenomenal skills in leading change and in sustaining change. Importantly, these skills need to be nurtured in young people even before they enter the workforce so that the future leader is fully equipped and skilled to steer the 21st-century dynamic business – to be both digital and people ready. Can you imagine a world where the next generation leaders already know how to influence others to implement ideas that can make a difference?
The modern leader believes if you’re not able to implement change and bring people along, you may as well be dead. They can engage their teams in the future of their business, rallying the troops to align with the new vision and way of doing things.
Most importantly they also know how to enable and energise them to act. So, what exactly does it take to be the ultimate leader who can successfully lead people, be ready for constant disruption, and stay the course to see change across the finish line?
Here, we outline five characteristics of the modern leader:
The modern leader connects with people and the environment
They are entrepreneurial and collaborative. They’re constantly looking for ways to collaborate to do better work – rapidly prototyping, piloting and transforming their work and others’. They hack processes, aerial mapping the entire enterprise for end-to-end value. They’re not afraid to make hard decisions to mobilise the business to thrive in the modern world. They enable people at every level and across business boundaries to contribute to the change conversation and execution.
The modern leader is adaptive, agile and innovative
They’re fluid, nimble and quick to mobilise and navigate opportunity. They’re not afraid to use new technology and management tools to help people perform, collaborate and make decisions through real-time measurement, data and results monitoring. They understand great things happen at the intersection of technology and people. And they build a new ecosystem in their environment – they check in, not up, to build a continuous cycle for improvement and new behaviours.
The modern leader is a visionary, influencer and storyteller
They understand the need for the macro vision and the micro goal. They provide a clear vision that links a plan to a purpose. They move complexity into plans and out of execution. They are clear with direction, enabling people to achieve. And they influence by practising social fluency, becoming adept at influencing diverse groups and persuading others to act. They know to lead through change, means building their capability to tell meaningful stories that inspire action. They energise others to tell stories so that everyone in the business feels empowered and part of the change.
The modern leader instils confidence
They connect with the environment around them, bringing data and people together to consider what’s needed to succeed – to weigh decisions with outcomes. They focus on people, relationships and culture, and balance this with the power of technology and data to better connect and engage in dialogue. They lead teams to perform productive and meaningful work and are performance multipliers.
The modern leader has an ever-learning soul
Absorbing new knowledge, developing new capabilities, inspiring new ways of looking at the old, and new lenses to look to the future. They know a mentor and coach talks about growth and opportunity routinely. They give others the opportunity to learn, experiment and experience new and different skills and situations.
Final thoughts on proficient leadership
Leadership has changed forever and the modern leader knows that thriving in the digital future requires a new leadership model that can flex and stretch to the needs of a modern workforce. They also recognise the ability to not just navigate change, but that creating and implementing change has the power to shift the world.
At the very least leadership can change their world and that of the people they lead, creating better businesses and communities around them.