Leadership in the 21st Century
Leadership in the 21st Century
The 21st century market place and business environment has changed significantly and this has necessitated a different approach to leadership. The pace of business and technology change rapidly and so are the requirements and skills that workers are expected to have. Workers are realizing that they have to update their skills frequently and that they need to posses a range of skills and capabilities irrespective of their work roles. They are demanding greater flexibility in their work. The workplace has become global due to the expansion of markets in different countries as well as the presence of a diverse cultural workforce. The 21st century leader has to be aware of these changes and he must adapt so that he can become effective. Despite this, some management qualities that have existed for many years continue to be relevant in the modern age.
People are demanding greater accountability from their leaders. The idea of having good and credible leadership has not changed. People are no longer willing to overlook the leaders’ weaknesses and failures. They want leaders who will act with integrity and character. Leaders are expected to be visionary. They need to be aware of changes and trends before they happen, as this will ensure that their organizations are in the lead. Knowledge has become important in the last several years. Knowledge is equated to power and leaders should share such knowledge with the workers. The idea of empowering workers has not changed. For the last several years, workers have demanded more empowerment as their relationship to their employers has changed. They make more contribution in the workplace and they expect leaders to recognize their efforts.
Making mistakes has become part of the modern workplace. Mistakes are seen as learning lessons and opportunities to make improvements in the workplace. Leaders are expected to make risks and caution is often not encouraged. They are also expected to involve employees and engage them in decision-making. This is in recognition that they may not always know what is best and they may not have access to all information. The constant learning and skill improvement have made workers more valuable. Leadership has become less of control but more of influencing and energizing others, while creating a suitable environment for them to fulfill their personal career and organizational objectives. Inspiration and motivation has become more necessary today due to the increasing work demands and challenges. As in the past several years, coaching remains essential in leadership. Subordinates expect their leaders to help them develop and grow.
Leaders are required to have experience in many fields. It is no longer sufficient for leaders to have knowledge in one area. Thus, leaders are expanding their horizons in the areas they choose to specialize. Emotional intelligence has become essential in today’s market place. Innovation and creativity have become important attributes for modern day leaders. Leaders are expected to be flexible enough to adapt to changes. This requires them to use different leadership styles as required so that they can get the results they want. They need to recognize the need to make decisions differently as situations change. Hierarchical management has almost been eradicated, as most organizations prefer having flat management. Leaders encourage their employees to raise their concerns and to contribute to the development of the company. They are more concerned about people as they realize the value of human capital. They should seek to develop trust with all the stakeholders involved including the employees, investors, business partners and shareholders.