As the world evolves and technology advances, businesses, and their workforces have to adapt to the constant changes. That includes leadership. In fact, in order for companies to successfully navigate the changes, leaders have to set the example. In other words, they have to “lead” the way.
But just as technology and other workplace practices advance and change, leadership, too, is also evolving. In fact, the very concept of leadership has undergone a transformation throughout the last decade.
The status quo of “leadership” is no longer the status quo. For decades, leaders were simply bosses or managers. Those with higher-level position were considered “leaders” regardless of their abilities (or lack of abilities) to lead. If you were in a position of authority, you were a “leader.”
Characteristics of a Good Leader
But that’s not the case in the current workplace. Although bosses continue to “boss,” and managers continue to “manage,” true leaders can be found in all levels of a company. The definition of good leadership hasn’t really changed. But the perception of good leadership has.
Good leaders don’t just guide a group of individuals or an organization. They don’t just make the key decisions that determine which direction a company takes. Good leaders actually lead people by example. They motivate. They inspire. They serve. They see things others can’t, then help others see them too.
Good leaders show empathy, integrity, trust, and creativity. They don’t seek praise or recognition. Instead, they seek to help those they lead become better. They find joy in the success of others. In one word, leaders show love.
Bossing Is Not Leadership
Twenty years ago, many leaders were simply bosses. They ordered people to do things. They disciplined subordinates when they messed up and they always let others know who was in charge.
Maybe you know such a boss. Maybe you’ve worked for a boss like that. Or maybe, you are that kind of boss. But a boss is not a leader. According to Mark Miller of the Volaris Group, a boss:
- Knows everything
- Talks a lot but rarely listens
- Always gives answers
- Criticizes or ridicules
- Looks for weaknesses and highlights them
- Orders or directs
- Is self-absorbed and ego-centric
- Blames others for mistakes or failures
- Demands respect and results
New Style of Leadership
The workforce is changing. And thankfully, the workplace is also changing. The younger generation entering the workforce sees leadership and success differently than the old regime. The notion of “old guys in suits” bossing people around from fancy high-rise offices, is no longer accepted.
Those types of “leaders” do still exist, but they’re becoming less common all the time. Just like old technology, bosses who criticize and tear down, are becoming instinct. So what kinds of leaders are replacing them?
How has leadership changed in recent years, and where is leadership headed in the future? Good leaders have several things in common, and not surprisingly, they possess skills and attributes that are quite the opposite of bosses. Good leaders:
- Listen first, talk second
- Are always looking to learn new things
- Look for solutions instead of focusing on problems
- Encourage, coach, train, and build
- Recognize and point out gifts and attributes in others
- Recognize their own weaknesses and need for improvement
- Are team-oriented
- Take responsibility for their own work
- Inspire others to achieve greater success
The changing workplace demands a change in leadership style. Therefore, in order for organizations to be successful, they must learn to develop and empower leaders. Companies must train and nurture this new generation of leaders if they want to be successful and achieve their goals now and in the future.
What Makes Good Leaders Easy to Follow?
Great leaders possess many positive characteristics that contribute to their success. The wonderful thing about great leaders is people naturally want to follow them. Employees follow bosses or managers because they don’t have a choice.
They often do it begrudgingly, which leads to low morale and only moderate success. But when employees recognize good leaders they latch on to them and trust their every move. There are certain traits people want to follow. Leaders need to learn and develop these traits if they want to achieve the greatest success.
- Self-management – leaders today must be able to self-manage. You can’t manage others if you can’t manage yourself.
- Communicate effectively – good leaders know how to communicate with others. They don’t speak at people. They communicate with people. This requires great listening skills, as well as empathy.
- Accountability – true leaders in today’s workplace take responsibility for their actions. They don’t blame others for their failures, and they don’t try to claim responsibility for others’ successes.
- Encourage innovation and creativity – today’s class of leaders sees the value of creativity in the workplace. They do everything they can to encourage those they lead to innovate. They motivate with positive reinforcement and encourage thinking outside the box.
- They care about people – leadership in the workplace is a lot more caring in today’s work world. Good leaders take the time to express genuine interest and concern for those they lead. They care about them as people, and not just as employees. They get to know them and understand what motivates them.
- Flexibility – good leaders in the workforce today know the immense value of being flexible. They bend but don’t break. They’re willing to try something new, even if the current method might be working. They’re also willing to ask questions and they’re always seeking new ideas, skills, and opportunities.
Leadership Will Continue to Evolve
Leadership in the 21st century has already advanced in many ways. Workers are no longer accepting the tired old definition of a leader. “Leaders” that boss or manage are becoming a dying breed. True leaders inspire.
And these changes are only the beginning. As the work world continues to develop, evolve and advance, so will leadership. To be effective, leaders will have to continue to learn and develop new skills. They’ll have to continue to be flexible as the workplace continues to change.
Remember, to be a good leader, you always have to be open to learning more. You’re always developing and becoming better. And ultimately, you must have the ability to love those you lead.