Leadership Fit for the 21st Century

The context for leadership and for future leaders is rapidly evolving as society, workforces and individuals become more consciously aware of their own environmental, societal and personal needs.

More, now than ever, as we struggle to grasp the implications of this pandemic crisis, we need to build the type of leadership capabilities that can meet the emergent challenges of the 21st century and guarantee leadership fit for the 21st century:


  • A need for a deeper engagement of staff and organisational potential by creating meaning and more purposeful work at an individual and collective level.

  • Dealing with complexity and greater uncertainty, being able to formulate and implement strategy in real time, based on current realities.

  • A blurring of organisational and personal life which builds additional psychological pressure on leaders and impacts resilience and energy.

  • The impact of technology and innovation that does not occur centrally but remotely from our businesses.

  • Complex social and cultural systems and their impact on relationship & organisational functionality and an ability to think holistically.

  • An organisational strategy that is sustainable and emphasises environmental and social responsibility.

The evidence for this collective transformation of consciousness has been consistently and compellingly described (Laloux 2014, Wilber 2000, Jawarski 2011, Senge 1990, Evans 2017, Oshry 2007, Greenleaf 1977, George 2009). These authors argue that a fundamental shift from ‘doing to ‘being’’ is essential for leaders if they are to meet these challenges.

Emergent Characteristics

So, what then are the emergent characteristics for human leadership (‘being’) in the future to address these challenges? Where should leaders be focussing as they look to create an environment that differentiates their businesses and releases the full potential of their organisations? From our experience at The Leadership Coaches (TLC) we suggest the following traits have been most effective:


  • Being authentic (true to self), genuine and worthy of trust (following an internal compass of values, beliefs and principles).

  • Putting the service of others and institution’s above their own interests (look for long term solutions rather than quick fixes to save face).

  • Admitting our mistakes, seeking help when required (expressing humility brings leaders closer to their teams).

  • Recognising the need to respond and adapt quickly to new realities, particularly during a crisis (empowering and motivating others to take ownership).

  • An ability to listen to what is wanting to emerge in the world (to be impartial, objective and to see multiple perspectives)

  • Being able to see the whole picture and successfully navigate uncertainty (understanding the systemic forces that impact relationships and strategic thinking).

  • Having the strength of character to stay on course despite set-backs or opposition (with a strong connection to sense of purpose and the strength of will to pursue).


Our Goal at The Leadership Coaches (TLC)

As a coach, the ability to bring multiple perspectives from psychology, business background, organisational development and systems theory creates a powerful set of lenses to enable clients to develop new approaches to a desired change, whilst at the same time being able to appreciate their uniqueness and strengths.


At TLC we work with clients to facilitate a shift of ‘being’ towards a more authentic, creative, relational, serving and human style of leadership. We do this by building a deepening self-awareness in order to recognise how mindsets, worldviews and our inner world can limit our connectivity with others, limit options, limit creativity, impair judgement and undermine our courage to follow our purpose. We aim to provide a framework for dialogue with the client’s inner realm (purpose, values, sense of self) and to relate these to the outer realm of behaviour.


In doing so, the capacity to see the whole system, be present and more relational, to create and make choices in the moment and to strengthen resolve is developed in a way that is more authentic and aligned with the ‘self’. In this frame of ‘being’, the energy required to lead is conserved, bringing a more resilient, sustainable and capable way of meeting the 21st century challenges outlined.


If you wish to continue this conversation with us, or would like to find out more about us, please get in touch with zoe@theleadershipcoaches.co.uk to arrange a FREE virtual consultation with one of our leadership coaches.


Article written by The Leadership Coach Dr Simon Dolan.

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