Changing Face of 21st Century Leadership

What do you respect, admire, and expect in the best leaders tomorrow vs. yesterday? Join the effort and take this quick 5 minute survey!

The world of business is changing. No surprise there. Harken back to the days of – what appear to be – singular inspiration like 2001 Apple releasing the iPod years after the first MP4 player, or the Swanson TV Dinner smash hit of 1954, or even the classic battles of 1975 BETA vs. VHS or the 2003 Gillette Mach 3 vs. Schick Quattro. In some cases it was borrowed brilliance and product innovation, in other cases sheer marketing upmanship. As the great Peter Drucker said, “Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”

The Leadership Challenge, first published by leadership greats Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, in 1987, presents findings on leadership qualities which led, or contributed to, those singular breakthrough product events. The core findings of that study, initiated in 1983, revealed that from individual contributors to strategic executives, all agreed the top leadership characteristics are:

• Model the Way
1. Find Your Voice by Clarifying Your personal Values
2. Set the Example by Aligning Actions with Shares Values

• Inspire a Shared Vision
3. Envision the Future by Imagining Exciting and Ennobling Possibilities
4. Enlist Others in a Common Vision by Appealing to Shared Aspirations

• Challenge the Process
5. Search for Opportunities by Seeking Innovative Ways to Change, Grow, and Improve
6. Experiment and take Risks by Constantly generating Small Wins and Learning From Mistakes

• Enable Others to Act
7. Foster Collaboration by Promoting Cooperative Goals and Building Trust
8. Strengthen Others by Sharing Power and Discretion

• Encourage the Heart
9. Recognize Contributions by Showing Appreciation for Individual Excellence
10. Celebrate the Values and Victories by Creating a Spirit of Community

All based on the core findings that those surveyed in the 1980’s found the greatest leaders to be Honest, Forward-Looking, Competent, Inspiring, and Intelligent.

However, recent studies from Gallop, Bersin, and IBM reveal changing characterisitics which define the emerging leader including – depending who you read – creativity, relationship-building, global perspective, transparency, and democratic organizational structure, among others.

Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices appear evergreen, yet perhaps there are emerging behaviors and beliefs, methods and mindsets, that jive with effective 21st Century Leadership practices. This is our inquiry. Join the conversation with our quick survey.