Saturday, July 24, 2010

“Do We Need New Breed of Leaders - 21st Century Leaders?” – Prof.M.S.Rao

“To survive in the twenty first century, we are going to need a new generation of leaders” – Warren G. Bennis.

Leadership has been changing with changing times and technologies although the basic essence remains the same. With the rising aspirations and expectations of the people and the craving for more participation and collaboration rather than the traditional ‘command and control’ concept, there is need for reinvention of the traditional leadership style.

The 21st century calls for leaders, not bosses. It calls for leaders with managerial skills and abilities who may be called managerial leaders. It calls for leaders who can don multiple hats as per the situation with flexibility. The 21st century leaders are the leaders who wed the best and shed the worst.

Gone are the days where leaders think that they get authority from hierarchical positions. These days, people respect the leaders who have personal power, not positional power.

21st Century Leadership:

The 21st century leadership is a new breed of leadership style where in it takes best of everything that is relevant in the current context but not compromising with the basic leadership principles and values. These leaders must possess unique qualities such as: character, commitment, compassion, communication, servant attitude, setting example, influencing, thinking out of the box, being smart at both soft and hard skills, having vision, cultural competency with a global mindset, radiating energy and enthusiasm, willing to take risk, appreciating similarities but not differences, empathizing with others, being passionate, optimist, and confident, demonstrating flexibility and adaptability to various challenges arising out of changing times and technologies, grooming others as leaders, and above all, passion to make difference for others.

Touchstones of 21st century leaders:

Since 1960s people have been showing lot of interest in leadership as it has been evidenced in the growing interest in these books and articles. Currently there is dearth of leadership talent and potential as it has become clear from several global challenges and crises arising out of recession. In fact, there is need for leadership training and development to churn leaders who can take the current challenges head-on.

Traditional leadership worked under traditional conditions. However, the current conditions demand a leadership that is unique and different. It requires creativity and out-of the box thinking. According to Daniel Pink; the 21st century skills that will be rewarded are "ingenuity, personal rapport, and gut instinct."

21st century leaders must be able to work in a pressurized and political environment. They must lead by example and influence, not control. They must provide clear direction, support and facilitate. They must be ready to change with a creative mindset to solve problems. They must learn to blend and balance between their head and heart, predictability and spontaneity, logic and vision and above all, criticism and forgiveness.

They must possess troubleshooting skills, change management skills, conflict management skills, networking skills, facilitation skills, and storytelling skills. We shall look at the few more touchstones.

• Passion to learn and grow.
• Being proactive.
• Ability to change and effect change smoothly.
• Appreciating similarities, ignoring differences
• Global mindset with universal cultural competency
• Being optimist and confident.
• Being good at Emotional Quotient (EQ), Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Spiritual Quotient (SQ)
• Problem solving skills and emotional intelligence.

The 21st century leaders must be fair and impartial and flexible to change. They must roll up their sleeves and help others. They must be risk takers and must bring out the best in others, build bridges, lead by example and manage change effectively and efficiently.

Employees’ Expectations:

Employees want to be treated well. They should be treated like partners rather than employees. They like to be groomed as leaders. In addition, they are more concerned about their professional growth.

Therefore, the leaders must build confidence and trust among people that their professional career growth is ensured. Besides, they must demonstrate flexibility and versatility, empower their people, engage employees effectively and efficiently, provide ownership and accountability, lead by example and influence.

Obama – A New Breed of Leader:

When we look at Obama, it is obvious that he is a new breed of leader the people are looking for. People are looking for leaders who can bring about change smoothly. People are looking for leaders who can walk their talk. People are looking for leaders who can transform the society. Above all, people are looking for leaders who can make a difference for others. Therefore, Obama is an apt example of a 21st century leader.


“The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of General Electric will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires. We have to send our best and brightest overseas and make sure they have the training that will allow them to be the global leaders who will make GE flourish in the future.” - Jack Welch

The 21st century needs the new breed of leaders who have impeccable track record. It calls for leaders who are authentic and who can walk their talk. It calls for leaders who have a deep sense of purpose and commitment. It calls for leaders who can groom leaders and who can effect change smoothly. It calls for leaders who stand by their convictions and values and above all, it calls for leaders who lead by example to make a difference for others.


"A Whole New Mind - Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age” by Daniel Pink

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