Leadership’s Seismic Shift

I’m an optimist so I can’t help wonder; is leadership starting to shift to a new more inclusive, sustainable, and values based approach that reflects the complex, uncertain, and fluid environment that we now inhabit.

My sense is that a leadership shift is starting, maybe not a seismic shift …yet! This view  is supported by a recent study of a group identified as the leaders of the future which showed that 34% agreed that ‘creating social and environmental value’ was a career goal. 79% also said that they will consider the company’s vision and values when choosing whether to join an organisation.

These future leaders have quite different expectations of the relationship that they will have with their employer. They will also have different expectations of what they want to achieve as leaders and how they want to go about achieving success. As these future leaders shift into their roles, we can expect different approaches to leadership.

While the future may look promising, is there any  evidence that change is already happening? We are already seeing some signs of new leadership styles coming to the fore.

Vineet Nayar CEO at  HCL, a leading global IT services company, is a great example of how a leadership approach based on inclusion and collaboration can achieve great things. He has worked hard to actively engage employees in the company’s strategy and future. He also inverted the organisational pyramid to  make management accountable to employees.

Gary Hamel, in his recent HBR article, “First Let’s Fire all The Managers”,  looked at the radical approach adopted by Morning Star Company, a leading tomato ingredient processor. They have implemented an approach where  employees negotiate responsibilities with their peers, everyone can spend the company’s money, and each individual is responsible for procuring the tools needed to do his work.  Chris Rufer, the founder, believes that the most successful and enduring organisations are based on real responsibility and self management.

These two examples show us that different approaches are succeeding; and will encourage future leaders to find their own approach to fit the needs and challenges of this century not the last.

So.. am I just an eternal optimist or can you sense a shift in leadership too?

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One Response to Leadership’s Seismic Shift

  1. I would venture that you are a realistic optimist Arlene, as you have not only sensed the change but provided evidence for the shift in leadership to a more inclusive, ethical, values-driven and sustainable model.

    For my part, I had this same sense of shift when watching a recent BBC2 programme in which Peter Jones, he of Dragons Den, interviewed Richard Reed, he of Innocent juices. Richard seems to embody most, if not all, of this emerging new leadership approach.

    This also comes through strongly from the CIPD’s excellent ‘Shaping the Future’ project which was all about sustainable organisational performance. In particular the emergence of public and private organisations practising what has been termed ‘Engaging Transformational Leadership’ in which inclusiveness, connectedness and enabling others are persistent themes.

    Wonderful to have so many reasons for optimism during these difficult economic times!

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