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. 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.

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.

There is an age-old saying, ‘businesses are managed but people are led’. 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 and 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.

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 – 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 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.