The traditional leadership style where power flows from top to bottom no longer works in most parts of the world. Consequently, any person who wants to succeed as a leader in the 21st century must adopt modern leadership styles and traits. The 21st c leader possesses a strong acumen, not only for human relations, but also business. Leadership, defined as the process by which a person influences an organized group with a view to accomplishing a predetermined goal, requires one to possess a particular set of requisite skills and knowledge in order to be competent in today’s business arena.
In the business world, the leader’s influence is evaluated through his/her proven consideration of that particular organization’s stakeholders and the larger society as well. The 21st century leadership model combines leadership, the human factor and professionalism in a single package. Today’s employees possess a strong sense of entrepreneurial spirit, making them more receptive to influence than to power. The 21st century leader must wield a great deal of influence. This has the effect of inspiring people so that they can clear their doubts and be able to follow the lead. Influence also helps a leader to connect well with other people, thereby shaping the way they view their work, workplace as well as the world. The art of influence enables the leader not only to get people do things in his own way, but also make them view things his way.
As a 21st century leader, one should possess innovative abilities, ability to execute and be an exemplary role model for his staff. Moreover, to succeed in today’s business environment, a new leadership style that has a unique set of relevant skills has to be adopted. The person that acquires and applies these skills has been dubbed ‘the enlightened warrior’. He/she identifies opportunities ahead of the competition and is very receptive to new information. Today’s leader is willing to attack, that is, to go against competition and weaknesses, both in himself/herself and the organization. This leader, therefore, shows passion in continuous waging of a constructive war.
Rapid changes in the world of technology call for an administrator, who has capability to think creatively. To cope with these trends, CEOs have to be ready for some stretching. They also have to be adaptable to the ever-changing business environment. They have to learn fast and adjust accordingly to make their organizations remain competitive and afloat. To be able to exercise flexibility without causing negative consequences, the 21st century leader has to understand the current situation, not necessarily the one that worked in the past. Different situations need varied treatments.
The 21st century leader must have self-awareness. Leaders must look at themselves first. It is only after you understand your own self you can lead a team and later the whole organization. They need to look deeply within themselves and uproot all their negative patterns. After this, they should be able to assess their leadership strengths and weaknesses. They can then decide to exploit their areas of strength and improve on their weak areas. Similarly, they may hire people with strengths that compliment their own. Today, many CEOs unanimously agree that as a 21st century leader, one must have a profound sense of purpose, which is, through influence, supposed to be instilled in the employees. This vision defines the person you are, your concept of the future and the direction in which you are moving.
The knowledge of these characteristics paints a clear image of what the 21st century leader ought to look like. It also provides a basis upon which an individual can evaluate his leadership potential. For instance, it is clear that a leader should possess a great deal of influence to be able to inspire and guide his juniors. Personally, although not on a corporate scale, there have been instances in which I persuaded my fellow students to raise funds for helping the homeless in my home area. It was a success. I am also a visionary individual with a formidable sense of purpose; this counts for one of the vital ingredients of good leadership. The 21st c leader is that kind of a person who is self-aware. He knows who he is, has a vivid vision of where he is headed. Personally, am that kind of a person who is self-aware and from past experiences, I have demonstrated possession of vision and mission. For instance, as the chairman of my class’s fundraising group, I proposed a 30% increase in our cash receipts by the end of the subsequent year to facilitate our mission. At that time, this goal seemed unattainable to many members but, based on my evaluation, I could positively anticipate success. That year, we managed a 38% increase! This means that I am a person who thinks creatively, plans and executes.
However, the 21st century leader should be extraordinarily receptive to new information and trends in competition. This is one area I must admit would present a huge barrier for me. This would be so because I understand it requires extensive research and experience, both of which I lack in. I am, however, a fast learner and can adapt to various environmental changes without causing negative consequences.