February 22

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21st Century Leadership: Driving Results and Inspiring People

By Carol Wain

February 22, 2022

Leadership, Leadership Qualities, Leadership Skills

What does 21st Century Leadership Look Like Today? 

What are some of the skills leaders should possess? How does a leader inspire their team? What does it mean to be a leader today? 

Leadership has always been important in the workplace. Today, however, leadership is more complex than ever before. There are new challenges, new technologies, and new ways of working. Leaders need to adapt to these changes and develop new skills to stay ahead of the competition.

The way we communicate, collaborate, and interact with each other is evolving. This means that the skills needed to be a successful leader and a successful manager or supervisor are changing too.

A manager is responsible for achieving organizational goals through teamwork and cooperation. This means being humble enough to listen to others' ideas and encouraging them to take risks, demonstrating respect for their opinions and values.

In this article, we will explore how to drive great business results while inspiring people to help you reach them.

What Leadership Means

Leadership: A Definition

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, "leadership" is defined as "the act or process of leading." In simple terms, leadership is about influencing and directing others toward a common goal. It involves taking charge and making decisions.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader"

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader" - John Quincy Adams

What Is Leadership in Everyday Terms?

Some people are natural-born leaders who learn to become better at their role as their leadership experience grows.

You can recognize them, regardless of their age -- from the pre-schooler who suggests that the other children join them in some type of activity to the class presidents, activists, entrepreneurs, military and religious leaders, political leaders, professionals, scientists, athletes, etc., and on the dark side, the gang leaders, disinformation spreaders, and other criminals.

Some people are driven to become leaders, others are reluctant leaders. Most often, though, people are leaders in some parts of their lives and followers in others. After all, a leader needs followers and humans need great leaders to guide them.

I suspect you see this in yourself too -- you may be a leader for one area of your life, and you choose to be a follower in other areas. In both instances, you can learn to be a better, more effective leader by learning from those around you.

Leadership is more than a title though and there are some people with leadership titles who shouldn't be in that particular leadership role.

And you can be a leader without being in a leadership position with a leadership title. You've likely seen informal leaders who have more influence than official leaders, as they inspire and encourage other team members to follow their lead.

Leaders Create a Vision, Higher Purpose, Core Values and Strategic Direction

 “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” ~ Jack Welch

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” ~ Jack Welch

Leaders set an inspiring vision for the company. The vision is the long-term view of where the company is headed and what they expect the company to do and achieve.

They decide (sometimes with help from their employees) what the higher purpose is. The higher purpose is the purpose beyond simply making money.

And they outline what the core values of the company are, ensuring that the decisions that are made by everyone in their organization are in alignment with these values, the strategic objectives, and the vision and purpose.

These elements combine to define what the company is and what it stands for, beyond the implied reason of making money. They also create a shared sense of identity among the entire team, which helps to improve employee engagement.

For example, if the vision is “to provide products that will make people healthier and happier,” then the higher purpose might be “to improve people’s lives through better health.”

If the core values are honesty, integrity, and respect for others, then the higher purpose might become “to build strong relationships with our customers so we can serve them well.”

When the vision is articulated clearly, and the expectations, responsibilities, and accountabilities are challenging, without being too demanding to cause unbearable stress, or simply unrealistic because it's unattainable given the available resources, the organization will attract aligned employees who are eager to help it achieve its goals.

Motivating and Inspiring People

 “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another. And, when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” — Daniel Pink

“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another. And, when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” — Daniel Pink

Great leaders inspire their followers not only through words but also through actions.

They show that they notice the efforts of others and the achievement of a goal (or many goals), and they want to help them achieve success personally and professionally. They believe in their people as individuals with individual needs, working toward individual goals in alignment with the inspiring vision of the future they establish.

Performance management, of course, is extremely important, and meeting targets such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals are necessary for the delivery of the vision and for long term resilience, relevance, and success.

However, great leaders understand that different people need different things, and they treat them with appreciation, respect, and growth-inducing challenges as part of their approach to achieve their purpose, vision, and strategic objectives.

Leaders who encourage their followers to take risks and try new things often find themselves working with high-performing teams.

These leaders know that when you give people the freedom to make mistakes, they will learn from those mistakes and grow.

The difference between motivating people and inspiring people.

Some people believe that you can extrinsically motivate people who aren't motivated, but motivation must come from within (intrinsic motivation) to be sustainable. 

You may be able to temporarily nudge people in the direction you want them to go by giving them praise or offering incentives, but it won't last unless you have the correct people, in the correct roles, doing the correct things that leverage their skills and potential, with managers and leaders who know how to lead and manage well.

Inspiration comes from within when the head and heart align with the message being delivered. When you inspire people, you connect with their emotions and tap into their strengths. This helps them feel more confident and connected to your organization.

When you inspire people, they feel like part of something bigger than themselves. They feel valued and important. And this makes them willing to work harder and smarter because they understand how much they're contributing to the greater good.

The combination of recognition, appreciation, and rewards works best with a healthy dose of inspiration.

It's all about helping people see the value of their contribution and great leaders ensure they inspire, recognize, appreciate, and reward their direct reports so that they find the motivation within themselves to give their best discretionary effort to achieve their targets.

Coaching and Building a Team to Achieve the Vision

“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” - Steve Jobs

“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” - Steve Jobs

Leaders lead people. Leaders build their team with capable people who align with the organization's vision, core values, higher purpose, and strategic objectives.

A great leader not only inspires and motivates but also coaches which has lasting effects on both personal performance and business performance.

Everyone brings their unique set of strengths and weaknesses, so coaching is critical to building a successful team.

A coach doesn't tell people what to do; instead, he or she provides feedback on how they can improve. A coach listens carefully to each person's ideas and challenges them to think differently.

Leaders need coaches too, just like elite athletes, and when they are coached by an executive coach, they improve their personal outcomes. When they extend the lessons they learn from being coached themselves, to their managers, so that they can coach their employees, everyone wins.

In fact, research shows that people perform at their highest level when they have an effective coach, regardless of their position within the company.

According to the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, Leadership Coaching for emerging leaders not only increases their self-awareness, but also increases their humility, and sense of purpose, which are all areas that are needed for great 21st Century Leadership.

Leadership Coaching for Emerging Leaders

Leaders need to coach their direct reports so that they can develop themselves and their skills effectively. Employees who feel valued tend to have higher employee engagement and will be intrinsically motivated to improve their performance and work harder, which ultimately benefits the organization. 

Leadership vs. Authority

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” - Kenneth H. Blanchard

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” - Kenneth H. Blanchard

 

Leadership is about influence over people. It's getting people to follow you.

Authority is power over others. It's having control over other people.

Leadership is earned through trust, respect, and authenticity.

Authority is earned through experience, knowledge, and expertise.

Leadership is about inspiring people to believe in the mission, vision, and core values of the organization.

Authority is about enforcing rules and regulations.

Leadership is based on trust.

Authority is based on fear.

Leadership is a mindset.

Authority is a system.

Leadership is built on relationships.

Authority is maintained through the hierarchy.

Leadership is an art.

Authority is a science.

Leadership is more than a title.

Authority is more than a role.


Leadership vs. Management

 "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things" - Peter Drucker

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things" - Peter Drucker

Leadership and management are two different skill sets. 

Leaders inspire people to help them achieve their vision; Managers manage relationships, processes and systems that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the work people do.

Management skills are more about achieving the targets set out by the leaders.

In many small businesses, the owners are both the leaders and the managers, and how they approach the roles in different situations will make a difference to how they influence people and how well the business performs.

Leadership is the ability to lead, which means that people choose to follow them.

Management is about achieving results through the people that work for them.

Leadership is not about titles. It's about influence.

Management is about planning, organizing, directing, and controlling.

Leadership is both a skill set and a mindset.

 

Management is about making decisions and taking action.

Leadership is not about roles. It's about influence and impact.

 

Management is about following procedures and policies.

Leadership is building relationships and creating opportunities.

Management is about doing things right.

Leadership is the process of leading people to achieve results.

Management is the process of managing resources to achieve results.

Leadership is motivating people to behave differently.

Management is motivating people to do what has been done before.

Leadership is encouraging people to think outside the box.

Management is telling people how to do something.

Leadership is helping people solve problems.

Management is problem solving.

Leadership vs. Mentorship

 “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself" - Oprah Winfrey

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself" - Oprah Winfrey


Leadership is about empowering people to become better versions of themselves.

Mentorship is about teaching people how to become better versions of themselves.

Leadership is focused on the future.

Mentorship focuses on the past.

Leadership is relationship-based.

 

Mentorship requires one-on-one time.

Leadership is collaborative.

Mentorship involves one person giving advice to another.

Leadership is inclusive.

 

Mentorship excludes people.

Leadership builds confidence.

Mentorship builds self-confidence.

Leadership is proactive.

Mentorship can be reactive.

Leadership is forward-thinking.

Mentorship looks backward.

Leadership vs. Boss

“There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” ~ Klaus Balkenhol

“There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” ~ Klaus Balkenhol


Leadership is about being authentic and trustworthy.

Bosses are about being authoritative and demanding.

Leadership is all about influence.

Bosses are all about authority.

Leadership is typically about the team.

Bosses are often about the individual.

Leadership is empowering others.

Boss can be about getting your way.

Leadership is listening.

Boss is talking.

Leadership is asking questions.

Boss is answering questions.

Leadership is challenging assumptions.

Boss is reinforcing assumptions.

Leadership is providing feedback.

Boss is criticizing.


Granted, these are generalizations, especially when it comes to the boss. It all depends on their emotional intelligence, maturity, and leadership style.

I have had some awful bosses and I have also had the most incredible boss.

The awful bosses acted like they were God's gift to the organization, whereas my best boss asked for recommendations, mentored me, offered me opportunities to try different roles, and taught me a variety of skills (I was 17 when I experienced my first incredible boss, and frankly, no-one has come even close ever since).

Why are Leadership Skills So Important?

Regardless of whether you have a leadership title or not within your organization, leadership skills are important for 21st Century businesses because they enable you to make a difference in the lives of other people. They help you connect with people, build trust, create value, and inspire others.

Qualities of a Good Leader

“Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. "Leadership qualities" are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders.” ~ John Holt

A good leader must possess these qualities:

Authenticity

A true leader is honest and genuine. He/she does not pretend to be someone he/she is not. An authentic leader shows their followers/team that they are human, while they keep the elements that may worry/frighten them out of their radar.

"Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else." - Michael Jordan.

"Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else." - Michael Jordan.

Trustworthiness

A leader must be trustworthy.

This means that when you follow him/her, you know that you will get back what you put into it. You don't want to be taken advantage of by a dishonest leader. 

Having a trustworthy leader is especially important during times of crisis, times of uncertainty, and times of transformation, which is the reality we're living in. 

Individuals need to know that their leader will steer them in the correct direction and look out for them, as individuals, as well as the organization.

Sadly, some leaders have shown themselves to lack in this area. They are more invested in themselves than the organization they lead, the people that contribute to the success, or the impact they are making to the communities they serve and the planet we live in.

Fortunately, there are many great leaders who have the entirely opposite approach, and they are the leaders who are building long-term, resilient, sustainable, profitable, and attractive organizations.

 "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." --Warren Buffett

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." --Warren Buffett

It is especially distressing to see the eroding trust in government, NGOs, and the media. Some business leaders are still stuck in the old world, and they will find themselves eventually replaced by 21st Century Leaders, and to those leaders, kudos to you.

According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, business leaders (in general) are more trusted than the government, NGOs, and the media. To those leaders, keep on building that trust and use it to transform the world!

Integrity

Integrity is doing what you say you will do. The best way to build trustworthiness is by being trustworthy yourself. If you don’t believe you can deliver on your promises, why should anyone else?

I know this sounds like a cliché, but it really does take hard work to gain leadership credibility.

It takes more than just a title and fancy office. People have extremely good BS detectors and will call out those who do not live in integrity.No-one is perfect, and we all slip up at times, but actions speak louder than words. And even though social media has created a situation where words can be turned against people in a blink of an eye, followers of leaders with integrity will be more likely to forgive the "humanness" of their leader, in these, hopefully, rare instances.

"Moral authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity, and treating people with respect." – Stephen Covey

"Moral authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity, and treating people with respect." – Stephen Covey

Vision

Vision is having a clear picture of where you want to go as an organization.

It's also knowing what you need to do to get there. Great leaders set direction with a vision of where they are going, and they share it in a way that inspires others to follow them.Vision is what is inspiring top-talent to leave their current roles to join organizations which are more aligned with their personal beliefs.The Great Resignation is the result of many factors, but the organizations that have a strong vision, an inspiring message, and a higher purpose that incorporates ESG (environment, social, and governance) measures will benefit greatly as we recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” - Warren G. Bennis

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” - Warren G. Bennis

Commitment

Commitment means that you're willing to act towards achieving your vision. It doesn't mean that you'll never change direction because you will, given all the changes in technology, expectations, and other external factors like the pandemic and the economic impact of the restrictions.

As an effective leader, regardless of the impacts from external forces, your commitment to your vision, purpose, people, and values is critical to keep people inspired.

"I never dreamed about success. I worked for it." ~ Estée Lauder

"I never dreamed about success. I worked for it." ~ Estée Lauder

Empathy

Empathy is understanding and feeling what others feel. Empathy helps leaders understand their followers' needs and desires. Old school leaders believe that showing empathy is showing weakness. It's the opposite. Empathy shows strength and builds relationships.

“Our core business is connected with the customers’ needs and we will not be able to satisfy them if we don’t have a deep sense of empathy” - Satya Nadella

“Our core business is connected with the customers’ needs and we will not be able to satisfy them if we don’t have a deep sense of empathy” - Satya Nadella

Compassion

Compassion is caring about the well-being of those around us. Compassion is seriously lacking in some organizations but lately, well-being is a hot topic due to the changes in workplace dynamics.

Being a compassionate leader is powerful.  Certainly, some people may attempt to take advantage of your compassion but, as a 21st Century leader, you can be compassionate and unwavering at the same time.As this article has pointed out numerous times, bringing humanity back to the workplace is powerful because it shows people that you care about them, as well as the organization, its customers, the planet and society.The other side of the compassionate coin is responsibility, accountability, and fulfilling the social contract of the role the other person has.Compassion is not weakness. Instead it takes a mature, emotionally intelligent, and confident leader to be compassionate and effective at the same time.

 “The simple act of listening to someone and making them feel as if they have truly been heard is a most treasured gift.” - L. A. Villafane

“The simple act of listening to someone and making them feel as if they have truly been heard is a most treasured gift.” - L. A. Villafane

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is being able to recognize our strengths and weaknesses.It's about knowing the value we bring to any situation - value without ego - value because we know with every ounce of our being that we can deliver what we promise.It's also about understanding what our triggers are and maneuvering around them.

It's knowing what we want to improve upon and what we need to learn.

Self-awareness enables us to become better leaders because we're tuned into what makes us tick (or explode!)Being a self-aware leader and demonstrating such, opens the door for conversation about self-awareness in the people who work with you so they may perform their role with less challenge and more pleasure.Being self-aware is not a weakness and instead it's a strength that is much stronger in the face of crisis and every day challenge than someone who lacks this awareness.

"Strong people have a strong sense of self-worth and self-awareness; they don’t need the approval of others." - Roy T. Bennett

"Strong people have a strong sense of self-worth and self-awareness; they don’t need the approval of others." - Roy T. Bennett

Confidence

Confidence comes from believing in ourselves.

If we believe in ourselves, then we won’t doubt ourselves. We won’t second guess our decisions. And we won’t worry if things don’t turn out exactly as we planned.

Confidence can be wobbly at times, especially when leading into the unknown and in this chapter of capitalism, there are more leaders feeling a little more wobbly than in previous chapters. 

However, great leaders accept the uncertainty and are confident in their abilities to lead through it, usually with the help of consultants, coaches, mentors and other trusted advisors.If your confidence is wobbly, reach out.  Regardless of your position, we have trusted, confidential advisors who can help you.

The vetted advisors in our marketplace (and especially those who aren't but are in our virtual Rolodex) have worked with start-ups to world leaders and everyone in between.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (or EQ) is the ability to identify, process, and manage emotions. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are better equipped to handle stressful situations.

They can motivate themselves and others through positive reinforcement.

They can also check-in with themselves when things go well and ask themselves "what were the factors that made this work?" rather than letting ego get the better of them.

Sure, it may have been all about their abilities and they certainly shouldn't downplay their success - celebration is important, no matter the size of the win - but recognizing how they are feeling matters.

Likewise for when things don't go well - especially when things don't go well.  Instead of lashing out at others, blaming, or beating themselves up, a leader with a healthy dose of EQ will say, "what were the factors that made this fail?"

EQ doesn't mean not having emotions, it's about keeping them in check, recognizing them for what they are and moving on.

Jack Welch

"No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can't ignore it." - Jack Welch

Maturity

Mature leaders can see beyond the immediate situation. They think long-term and plan. They make good decisions based on logic rather than emotion.

They are patient and persistent.

Maturity does not necessarily mean age.

While age does provide an experience that aids in maturity, there are many young people who are more mature than their Baby Boomer and GenX colleagues.

"Maturity is when your world opens up and you realize that you are not at the center of it" - M.J. Croan

"Maturity is when your world opens up and you realize that you are not at the center of it" - M.J. Croan

Courage

Courage is taking risks for the sake of something bigger than yourself.

 Courageous leaders are willing to step up to the plate and take responsibility for making tough decisions. They aren't necessarily fearless, but they see their fear for what it is and take the appropriate action anyway.

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” — Brene Brown

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” — Brene Brown

Respect

Respect is giving credit when credit is due.

Respect is not only paying attention to the accomplishments of others but acknowledging the contributions of everyone involved in accomplishing a goal. 

Respect is earned by followers when these other traits are consistently displayed.

"Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers." - Stephen Covey

"Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers." - Stephen Covey

Humility

Humility is accepting responsibility for mistakes while still maintaining high standards.

Humility allows you to admit when you've made a mistake and learn from it.

Humility is essential to building trust and credibility, which is critical for effective leadership.

"Humility leads to strength and not to weakness. It is the highest form of self-respect to admit mistakes and to make amends for them." - John J. McCloy

"Humility leads to strength and not to weakness. It is the highest form of self-respect to admit mistakes and to make amends for them." - John J. McCloy

Influence

Influential leaders can persuade or convince others to act in ways that benefit them.

Influential leaders can create new ideas, solve problems, and influence others to work together toward a common goal.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ~ John C. Maxwell

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ~ John C. Maxwell

Gratitude and Appreciation

A grateful leader takes time to acknowledge all the small and big things that have helped him or her along the way.

A grateful leader also takes time to acknowledge the efforts of their team, their customers, suppliers, and everyone else who has helped bring their vision to life.

The gratitude we feel toward those around us should never be limited by our ability to express it. It’s important to convey our appreciation to others through actions, not just words.

Great leaders show their gratitude through acts of appreciation, such as supporting, encouraging, coaching, teaching, recognizing, rewarding, and providing opportunities for personal and business growth.

"Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” - Margaret Cousins

"Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” - Margaret Cousins

Learning Agility for Continuous Learning

Learning agility enables leaders to learn new skills and adapt quickly to changing situations. The ability to learn new things helps them gain knowledge and develop skills. This skill set is crucial for today’s leaders as they need to be able to change direction when necessary.

Continuous learning matters for 21st-century leaders because they need to be able to adapt to change. The world is changing at such a fast pace that we cannot afford to stop learning. We must learn new skills, technologies, and business models. If we do not keep up with these changes, then our businesses will become obsolete.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Leadership Styles

For the purposes of this article, we will summarize 10 types of leadership, some of which are better at achieving the outcomes required for 21st Century Businesses.

Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all kind of topic. Each organization has different requirements. Organizations like the military require more bureaucratic and autocratic leadership because the stakes are extremely high. Creativity, innovation, and other aspects of more democratic, transformational, relationship-oriented, and servant leadership certainly would be out of sync with the nature of military work.

Likewise, creative, and innovative organizations would likely find themselves with constant turnover of staff, if they were micromanaged by an autocratic, paternalistic, or task-oriented leader.

There are horror stories, particularly in the high-tech world, where the leadership is so focused on the results at any cost, that there seems to be a large disconnect between the employees and their leadership.

Democratic Leadership

Democracy is about sharing power and decision-making among multiple stakeholders. Democratic leaders listen to feedback and consider opinions before making final decisions. They encourage input from all members of an organization.

Richard Branson is a democratic, and charismatic leader. Larry Page and Indra Nooyi are also considered to be democratic leaders.

Autocratic Leadership / Authoritarian Leadership

An autocrat is someone who makes decisions without consulting anyone else. Autocratic leaders make decisions based on their own beliefs and values. They often rely heavily on intuition and gut feelings.

Martha Stewart is, and Henry Ford was, an autocratic leader.

Paternalistic Leader

Paternalistic leadership is a style of leadership where leaders try to control everything about their employees' lives. This type of leadership is often used by dictators or strongmen who want to exert total control over their subordinates. Paternalistic leaders may make decisions without consulting their employees, and they may even make unilateral changes to policies or procedures. They may also use threats and intimidation to ensure compliance. Paternalistic leaders are usually very authoritarian and controlling.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is a form of leadership where leaders serve others. They do not seek power or recognition, but rather use their influence to empower others. This type of leadership is based on servant traits such as humility, compassion, empathy, honesty, integrity, courage, and respect. A leader who uses this style of leadership is called a servant leader.

Nelson Mandela was a servant leader and John Mackie (CEO of Whole Foods) is also in this category.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on building relationships with followers and motivating them to achieve goals together. Transformational leaders inspire people to want to work harder and accomplish more.

They create an atmosphere where people feel safe enough to speak up and share ideas.

Transformational leaders provide a vision for what is possible and then lead others through the process of creating that vision.

They encourage employees to take risks and make decisions while providing support when needed.

Transformational leaders build trust among employees and give them opportunities to grow personally and professionally. Transformational leaders set high expectations for themselves and their teams and hold themselves accountable for meeting those expectations.

Ariana Huffington, Malala Yousafza, Elon Musk, and this author, Carol Wain, are transformational leaders.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership is a style of management that emphasizes freedom, autonomy, and independence. This type of leadership focuses on empowering employees and encouraging them to take initiative and make decisions. Employees who work under this type of leader tend to feel like they have control over their jobs and the ability to do things on their own. They are given the opportunity to use their creativity and skills to solve problems and achieve success.

Warren Buffets is a Laissez-Faire Leader

Task-Oriented Leadership

Task-oriented leadership is characterized by clear goals and objectives. Leaders are responsible for setting standards and expectations for employees. Employees are expected to meet these standards.

A task-oriented leader is someone who focuses on accomplishing specific tasks. He or she may not focus on motivating people, but rather on getting things done. This type of leadership style is effective when there is a clear objective to accomplish. If your goal is to motivate employees, then this style of leadership won’t work.

Relationship Oriented Leadership

A relationship-oriented leader focuses on building relationships with people to achieve goals. They understand that people don't just want to be told what to do; they want to know why.

They use this knowledge to create trust and understanding between themselves and their followers. They work to build teams and encourage collaboration among employees. They create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. They make sure that their organization operates based on mutual respect and shared goals.

Charismatic Leadership

Charisma is a term used to describe someone who possesses certain qualities that make them very attractive or influential. This person may be charismatic because he/she is a natural leader, or because he/she has developed a unique personality that makes him/her stand out among others.

A charismatic leader is usually perceived as being warm, friendly, outgoing, honest, sincere, trustworthy, and persuasive. Charisma is often associated with people who possess strong leadership skills. They tend to inspire confidence and trust in others.

Oprah Winfrey is, and Winston Churchill was, considered to be charismatic leaders

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is a style of leading where the leader sets goals and objectives for his or her group, establishes rules and regulations, and provides feedback and rewards.

The transaction leader believes in a “carrot-or-stick” approach and rewards successful behavior and might discipline unsuccessful behavior. This can result in a team that is highly motivated and focused on short-term objectives. Incentive programs that are tied to the objectives are a tool that the transactional leader will use.

Bill Gates and Howard Schulz are transactional leaders.

Top 21st Century Leadership Skills for Driving Results & Inspiring People

  • Visionary Skills
  • Trustworthiness
  • Great Communication Skills
  • Creating a High Performing & Humane Workplace
  • Respecting and Encouraging Diverse Opinions
  • Strategic Thinking and Implementation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Great People Skills
  • Focussing on ESG and SDGs
  • Innovative, Creative, Disruptive Skills
  • Ethical approach
  • Persuasion and Influencing Skills
  • Change Management / Transformational Skills
  • Planning and Implementation Skills

How Leaders Are Developed

To become a good leader, you must first understand yourself.

You must know your strengths and weaknesses. Then you need to learn how to communicate effectively. If you want to influence other people, you must be able to persuade and convince them.

To successfully manage change, you need to be able to think strategically. And if you want to be innovative, you need to be creative and disruptive.

This means you are constantly learning and evolving. You are learning from other great leaders, from executive coaches and from your employees.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my core values?
  • What is my vision for my own life?
  • What do I want?
  • What is the legacy that I want to create?
  • What beliefs do I hold that are limiting my growth?
  • What beliefs do I hold that are enabling me to be a better leader?
  • Would I be surprised if I overheard my team talking about my leadership style?
  • Do my actions reflect my intentions?
  • Do my words and actions align with my core values, vision and the legacy I want to create?
  • How do I react when someone points out my biases? Am I open to accepting them as biases?
  • Do I encourage people to share their thoughts and insights?
  • Do I speak more than I listen?
  • Do I interrupt people when they are talking?
  • How do I behave around people who are not like me (e.g. another gender or race, different abilities, neurodiverse people, etc.).  Do I treat them with dignity and respect?

Knowing yourself is important as a leader. You are human, so you have biases, strengths, weaknesses, and faults. When you address them, your emotional intelligence grows, as does your influence, so start with what makes you tick and then go from there.

Summary

The world is changing rapidly, and old-world leadership styles are not effective in many situations requiring innovation and creativity. Even traditional leadership styles which are still in effect in institutions like the military or in factories are evolving, albeit at a much slower pace, to recognize the deficiencies to people, planet, and profit.

21st Century Leaders need to evolve with technological, societal, regulatory, and environmental realities or they will find themselves playing catch-up in terms of organizational performance and people performance.

The pandemic brought about a shift in the way people view their work. Workers have started to question their priorities, how they are treated, and what the organization stands for.

Leaders who have recognized this shift will have the upper hand in attracting and retaining top talent.

It's time to reinvent business and transform lives and we're building a marketplace and resource library to help make the task less daunting and more efficient.

Carol Wain
Author: Carol Wain

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