The Leadership Style of the Future
In leadership, there is hardly any room for further experimentation. Many leadership styles have been ‘tested’ and those which have been more effective seem to be often neglected. Why? One of the most effective leadership styles as (according to various press releases) described by Nelson Mandela is known as ‘leading from behind‘, which compares a leader with a shepherd. Is this the leadership style of the future?
Leadership and management
This is an ambitious attempt to illustrate the leadership style of the future. A differentiation must be made between Leadership and Management. Those two roles are not always clearly distinguished in daily business operations and activities.
Management should refer to things and situations and not to people. If we apply the word ‘management’ to people, then we may act objectively. People may not want to be managed. In contrast, leadership relates to the positive influence and inspiration of people. People often do what a leader expects them to because they have trust and confidence in them. They feel good and motivated in the environment the leader creates for them.
Real-life and experience have repeatedly shown that it is an exceptionally tough (and not viable) task for a leader to try to change others. Instead, it is more realistic and efficient to change himself, to become a role model for his people and thus to exert a positive influence on them and on their behaviours.
The leadership style of the future is the supportive and cooperative style which does not rely its effectiveness on authority. An effective leader does not criticize or condemn. Instead, he creates an environment of accountability, allows space for decision making and holds his people accountable either for their behaviours or/and for their results.
What needs to change?
Sadly, in our hectic ‘modern’ world, in which money and power seem to have taken over, we often neglect the human factor. In the long run, this may prove disastrous for an organization or even for the society itself.
An effective leader needs to realize:
- That he/she must change the way he/she sees people motivation,
- What it takes to get along with people and
- How to tap into the strengths/talents of his/her people and play to them.
Dale Carnegie thoroughly explained, decades ago, the significance of understanding people and knowing how to influence people (also as a leader) in order to get along with them. His book ‘How to make friends and influence people’ is an exceptional read also for future leaders.
Jack H. McQuaig is the founder of a globally recognized system. The McQuaig system facilitates generations of professionals discovering and understanding their strengths. It guides them through a systematic and comprehensive process in order to further develop themselves.
Personally, I was fortunate to participate in the development of a team which organized its work on the basis of a common vision, on agreed (by all members) ground rules and core values and on the dedication of the team members to mutually support each other as and when needed. The team leader decided to act as a coach and facilitator for the team members and by involving them in the decision-making process he created an environment of engagement and accountability. The team achieved outstanding results and they all celebrated their successes as a team and not as individuals.
People are proud and they enjoy following those who respect them and support them in difficult times. They need to belong and to feel important. People need encouragement and rewards.
The leadership style of the future belongs to leaders who apart from basic leadership traits (such as risk-taking, accountability, positive attitude, stability and persistence, emotional maturity, self-motivation etc.) will play a supportive role as coaches to their direct reports. Those leaders are going to direct their people to more and better achievements without losing sight of core values and ethics.
Nelson Mandela is said to have compared a leader with a shepherd:
“A shepherd stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”