So what does a great 21st century leader look like?
In my 23 years of studying the topic (and still learning something new every day) here are some of the insights I have gathered about what really differentiates great leaders and organisations from mediocre ones at this time in our history.
- The organisation cannot perform at a level higher than the collective effectiveness of its leadership. This means there is no organisational transformation without the transformation of the leaders.
- We need organisations that are diversely led and engage people in cooperatively creating, innovating and taking responsibility for the success of the business.
- Great leaders can create great cultures regardless of the dominant culture in the organisation.
- Individuals at all levels must be prepared to exercise leader-like initiative and responsibility, using their local knowledge to solve problems at their level.
- Competency is only half the game. The rest is about integrity, honesty, passion, authenticity, collaboration, self-awareness, selflessness, purposefulness, humility and wisdom.
- Leadership is a conversation – meetings, phone calls, emails and strategic communications. How you show up in these conversations determines your level of effectiveness.
- Great leaders ask questions out of deep curiosity not to confirm their hypotheses and assumptions. They gather multiple perspectives and look for patterns to gain a broader understanding of complex problems.
- Great leaders build relationships of trust with all stakeholders.
- Great leaders give people a sense of purpose and belonging.
- They navigate complexity and lean into unpredictable settings.
- They have courage, compassion and character/ethics that they develop through great self awareness.
How are you faring against this list?