Do you have what’s needed for modern leadership?

How we lead our lives and teams has a direct and profound consequence on our outputs and achievements. With changing expectations in a world moving at pace, today’s leader is faced with challenges and demands like never before.

How we manage and meet these challenges will both measure and define our success.

One problem business and, indeed, society, faces right now is the juxtaposition between siloed-thinking traditionalists and the increasingly mainstream collaborators. Because whilst these two pillars can coexist, and ought to, they rarely do. And herein lies the contest.

Whilst bygone beliefs of leadership remain prevalent today, emerging leaders view the practice of imposing power on others as demoralising, demeaning, and destructive. Hardly inspirational adjectives.

Indeed, the ‘command-and-control’ practices look distinctly out of place in modern egalitarian societies and their organisations, lending weight to the increasingly hard-to-oppose argument that participative leadership will continue to forge the new way. For recent examples, we need look no further than cultural revolutions like the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter.

Increasingly, people want to feel like they’re involved in something meaningful.

This democratisation of leadership is rapidly gaining momentum, and few leaders and companies are prepared for it. ~ David Sturt, EVP, OC Tanner Institution.

A recent report undertaken by the OC Tanner Institute produced intriguing data from over 40,000 employees and leaders in 20 countries, which highlighted two stark facts:

  1. The rise of modern leaders appears to be tied to company culture
  2. Of the 17% of leaders exhibiting the mindsets and behaviours of modern leaders, 81% of them worked in organisations where all employees view themselves as a leader.

This isn’t just a culture shift, it’s a game-changer. Because the only way employees form this outlook is through empathy and encouragement, with leaders investing more time into their team members’ wellbeing, career goals, contributions, and accomplishments. 

For business leaders, the employee experience is everything. And whilst it sounds obvious, this hasn’t always been the case. Indeed, it remains a fading concept that employees should feel lucky to have a job at all, let alone consequent it in any way.

How leaders treat their charges will influence attraction and retention strategies and have a direct correlation to the business’ success. Employees who feel valued, looked after and part of something within which they have an influence, are much more likely to buy into the objective.

It is no longer feasible to operate the mantra of my way, or the highway.

People produce improved results and with more passion when they understand the purpose for which they are undertaking the responsibility. Connecting the company’s vision with the importance of the employee’s mission is the skill of a modern leader. The more attached the purpose, the greater the impact will be felt across the common cause. Indeed, OC Tanner’s report highlights a 58% swing in employee output when considering modern purpose-driven leadership versus traditional leadership.

A correlation not to be underestimated.

And with this sense of purpose, comes opportunity. Workers at the start of their careers seek employment that will allow them to learn and evolve. They place enormous stock in personal development and are hungry to maximise their potential, shoot for the moon. Modern leaders don’t fear this ambition, they encourage it, embrace it, enhance it, and embolden it. 

Modern leaders genuinely care about guiding career advancement. 

But it’s entirely altruistic, of course, because today’s leader also understands that if they are to reach their own goals, succession must follow. By helping develop the sum of its parts, the team evolves to provision time and space to allow leadership to adopt more skills, improve mindset and, in turn, impart further education. And it’s the cyclical notion that fosters the greatest magic of all. 

Modern leaders are connectors. They connect to purpose, to accomplishment, and to one another. They believe in democracy, seek objectivity, applaud creativity, and empower. Because great leaders don’t follow, they create new leaders.

So, how much of a modern leader are you? Perhaps you’re already on the journey – excellent – maybe you’re just starting out – great – and if you know you need to make the first step but haven’t quite managed it yet, then Beyond Limits might be just what you need to take that leap.

Whichever point you’re at, all great leaders have coaches – it’s the only way to evolve.


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2020 Global Culture Report, O.C. TANNER INSTITUTE

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