Understanding Leadership in the 21st Century

leadership

21st Century Leadership

How can today’s business leaders keep up with the seismic geopolitical and economic shifts in the world?

What do these mean for their own leadership narratives?

In their newly-released book, The Leadership Lab: Understanding leadership in the 21st century, author Chris Lewis and megatrends analyst Dr. Pippa Malmgren set out to help leaders navigate these changes successfully. Covering everything from how to build a new type of leadership trust when other spheres of public power have been overturned to robots overtaking companies, this book explains not only why the old rules no longer apply, but also how to blaze a trail in this new world order and be the best leader you can be.

I recently had the opportunity to ask the authors about their new book and get their thoughts on some of the most important challenges facing leaders today.

 

“’What do you think?’ are the four most powerful words in a leaders armory.” -Lewis and Malmgren

 

Embrace Uncertainty

What are some of the skills required in the 21st century that are different from previous generations of leaders?

The Leadership Lab front coverThere is but one skill required today that is different from previous generations. That is the willingness and ability to embrace uncertainty. Once a leader has abandoned certainty, they are on the path to excellence. The fact-based, research-led, ‘drill-down’ analytical approach that has historically been followed in the pursuit of efficiency is no longer enough. There’s nothing wrong with this, provided it is not at the expense of a ‘look-across’ big picture view. The reductionist model with one right answer at the back of the book promulgated by the infallible (often male) leader, is disappearing. This means the leader can no longer afford to predict one outcome but must now prepare for all outcomes.

 

“There is but one skill required today that is different from previous generations. That is the willingness and ability to embrace uncertainty.” -Lewis and Malmgren

 

What are some of the dangers of over-relying on data analysis when it comes to leadership? 

Quotes to Inspire You to Make a Difference

make a difference day

Make A Difference Day

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Make A Difference Day. Started in 1992, the day is one where people perform community service, volunteer, or serve others in various ways.

In the spirit of service, here are some quotes to inspire us all to give back. And, though the official day is October 27th, it’s a great reminder, no matter the date. That’s what servant leadership is all about.

 

“Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make a change.” –Barbara Mikulski

 

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” –Mother Teresa

 

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” –Tom Brokaw

 

“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.” –Zig Ziglar

 

“If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world.” –Elaine Dalton

 

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” –Leo Tolstoy

 

“It is better to have a meaningful life and make a difference than to merely have a long life.” –Bryant McGill

The Future of Humans in an Increasingly Robotic World

Humanity Works

The professional landscape is transforming, and the only way to maintain competitive advantage is to maximize the unique skills of your workforce. In Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future, consultant and futurist Alexandra Levit provides a guide to making the most of the human traits of creativity, judgment, problem solving and interpersonal sensitivity.

If you’ve ever wondered what the ‘robot takeover’ will look like, how talent and machines can work side by side and how you can make organizational structures more agile and innovation focused, you will be interested in Alexandra’s work. I recently spoke with her about her research and observations.

 

“Enlightened 21st-century leaders will abandon command-and-control to diplomatically govern their organizations.” -Alexandra Levit

 

When Robots Do More

You cover some sweeping trends. Would you share a few of the macro themes that are the backdrop of your work?

The book addresses a few essential questions: In a world where robots can do more and more, where does that leave us as humans? How will leaders build integrated human teams that can compete in a business world with constant evolutions and disruptions while remaining productive, marketable and sane? We explore the demographics, technological advances, work structures, organizational priorities, leadership models, individual career paths and human roles coming to fruition in the immediate years to come.

 

“The speed with which information populates the online world means with one wrong move, your organization’s reputation could be in jeopardy.” -Alexandra Levit

 

As you look at the workplace of the future, what are a few of the major changes we will see?

Unleashing Passion and Performance in Younger Generations

Future Leaders

 

Over one hundred million people make up millennials and Generation Z.

How do we motivate these young people? How do we unleash the power of these new generations?

Mark Perna is an author, CEO and generational expert. His new book Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations, is designed to help leaders awaken the potential of the Why Generation. I recently had the opportunity to ask him about his research and new book.

 

McGraw-Hill Education found that only 20 per cent of college students feel “very prepared” to enter the workforce.

 

The Why Generation

What is the Why Generation? What qualities and traits distinguish it?

The Why Generation is my term for Generations Y and Z, which include basically everyone under 40 today. Collectively, I call them the Why Generation because they want to know the reason behind everything. And this is exactly how we reared them. A lot of older-generation folks in management roles often perceive this as disrespect or insubordination, but it’s actually not. Young people want to know the reason why so that they can fully understand what they are being asked to do, and even more than that, so they can see if there is a way they can improve the process. They want to bring their own unique, special, and important contribution to the success of the plan, whatever it may be. They want to be engaged; they want their work to be relevant and mean something. They are not being rebellious when they ask why; they really want to know. They want purpose, and they will perform to the expectations we set for them (whether high or low). We have to answer the big question they are always asking in one way or another: why?

They place great importance on their personal values, which are often characterized by social and environmental activism. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and once they buy into a cause, they’re committed. Every decision they make is influenced to some extent by how it affects their desired lifestyle.

They’ve brought a fresh perspective to the working world. Both the Millennials and Generation Z want their work to be about more than the paycheck. They prioritize a flexible working environment that allows them to work from home and/or work nontraditional hours, and many companies are taking these preferences into consideration. They also want to rethink the ways things have always been done to create new processes to complete the work more efficiently.

They’re also digital natives who have grown up surrounded by technology. It’s their norm to have multiple screens going as they maximize their digital experience. Because they believe they’re unique, special, and important, they are constantly looking for ways to tell their story on the vast array of social media options. They also communicate differently, much more briefly than older folks are used to.

 

Only 11 per cent of business leaders perceive college graduates to be ready for work, according to a recent Gallup poll.

 

In what ways can we realize the full potential of the Why Generation?

5 Tips to Coaching Millennials

Millennial Leadership

Earlier this year, I interviewed Danita Bye about her new book, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader. Danita has a passion for the Millennial generation and wants them to be equipped to lead in the years ahead. Recently, she gave a TedX talk with tips on how to coach them.

 

5 Tips to Helping Millennial Leaders

 

Instead of complaining about them, try these five things:

  1. Start spotlighting a talent.
  2. Turn the technology off.
  3. Connect with people face to face.
  4. Focus on one individual, fully and completely.
  5. Make micro moves to make a major difference.

 

“What are the small micro moves we can make that will have a major influence on someone’s life?”-Danita Bye