By Brad Mason, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
Where will we find the leaders of tomorrow, what will we use to determine a successful leader, and how will we measure the success of our choice for the next great Legendary Leader?
For years, we have tried to define a good leader. Many have come up with different thoughts and ideas around the subject, and have even compared past and current leaders—forming opinions about which leaders (past or current) were better. I do not want to get into that argument; I just want to look at what it will take to become the leader of the future. The world as we know it is forever changing as markets and workforces are becoming even more global and diverse. Change, innovation, technology, and the competitive nature of the world and the economy are calling for new leaders—not only new leaders who can make tough decisions for themselves, but ones who can effectively lead organizations and collaborations, as well.
Leadership exists in every aspect of our lives today, and is required where one or more gather to make decisions involving people and business decisions. These can range from organizations such as churches and sport teams to local businesses and even a country’s military. However, how do you find the right leader?
Tools and Votes
Many tools exist today to assist organizations in locating the right leader. These tools range from expensive search engines and recruiting firms, used for filling positions such as CEOs and high-level executives, to less expensive tools such as help wanted ads. Some leaders are picked based on merit, experience in the job, whom they know, or referrals, while others start their own business or are handed the role because they are part of a certain group or family.
In the U.S., every two to four years, citizens select men and women to lead their country. The people do this by voting, and they hope the man or woman feels privileged to hold that office and will represent the voters’ best interest. My opinion is that far too often, those selected individuals turn into politicians who seem to forget why they were voted in and seem to think only of their own interest or special interest groups.
It seems that today it has become more of a challenge than ever to find the right leader. You would think that on a smaller scale that leading a scout troop, a sports team, being a hotel GM, or even managing a grocery store would be easier—but that is not necessarily the case. There are even the challenges with the leaders in our country’s military. I know this firsthand, as I spent 23 years in the United States Marine Corp.
What challenges do the leaders of today and our future face? One of the biggest challenges is the people they are to lead. We have the most diverse country in the world today, and when people go to work or play, they bring their thoughts, opinions, backgrounds, and problems with them. These life challenges are real to them and just leaving them at home is not always an option. Today’s leaders must deal with diversity and be able to collaborate across the entire organization to achieve success. It can be a challenge that could turn into failure, as they are managing multiple areas. They often find themselves in roles they are not comfortable in, such as being a coach, a trainer, a motivator, and even having to inspire their personnel to perform in their jobs. Many leaders prefer to spend their time around the technical aspects of their job such as growing the business; meeting deadlines; ensuring compliance; and managing local, state, and government regulations. However, they are finding they also must have multi-tasking skills, as they are being held more and more accountable for other roles such as cost management and ensuring return on investment. It is important here to acknowledge that on every leadership level, the leader is expected to go beyond developing and growing his or her own agenda, and inspire others to succeed, as well.
Author Vineet Nayar wrote about five critical attributes that are required for tomorrow’s leaders:
Influencers: Future leaders will not seek authority, or believe in control management—they inspire respect, and it will spread among peers, juniors, and seniors. He believes this will be a two-way phenomenon as they are open to being influenced by members of the same circle.
Support players: Leaders today are chosen and viewed as the star on their team. Leaders of tomorrow are not aspiring to be among the star players, as they will be busy building the star teams, invisibly supporting and building on the strengths of their team.
Risk takers: Leaders are going to have the courage to make mistakes. This is something that will be embodied in the fearlessness of the leaders of this and future generations. Risk takers believe in the power of change and are willing to take chances.
Emotional fools: Leaders will be more emotional and even passionate individuals for whom being “humane” is high on the priority list. There is a need to make things better for themselves, their friends, community, and the world at large. The office represents more than a “work” place, and will be looked at as an extension of life itself.
Irrationalists: Future leaders do not subscribe to popular notions of “realism.” When everyone around them is giving up hope, they continue to believe against all odds. The sentiment is infectious and has the power of turning the tide.
I find these thoughts very interesting. However, in the end, I firmly believe the great leaders of the future will need to understand that in order to be successful, they must realize their greatest asset is their people and they must learn how to work alongside them.
Brad Mason is a training account manager for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.