If you are old enough to remember dialing rotary phones, watching tube televisions, or pressing typewriter keys, then you know that now they seem utterly prehistoric. But it’s not just “things” that are developing for the better, some of our greatest business leaders are too. Gone are the days when people blindly follow alpha influencers; now good leaders create an inclusive atmosphere.
Think about the leadership qualities of Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. They seem to embrace their roles as the global ambassadors of multiple companies. They continuously share thoughts and beliefs that resonate with employees and supporters. They come across as genuine, involved, and hardworking; continually amazing the public with revolutionary solutions, all-the-while demonstrating strong “family” values.
These leaders are beginning to create a world where the only time people need to collaborate is to solve a new problem; delegating the repetitive work to technology and AI. They realized that problems are the most important resource in the future as companies. It then becomes secondary to compete in terms of efficiency, output or price.
Elon Musk has said, “40 years ago we had Pong – two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were. Now 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we won’t just have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality.”
Trying to imagine that world is a feat beyond human comprehension, but I predict we will experience sheer joy in discovering new ways of thinking and working that validate human existence and maximize our potential. Although we haven’t reached that reality yet, it is materializing slowly around us. We are creating it day by day.
But, are the majority of our leaders and company structures keeping up with this? Is the idea of the CEO and the Board of Directors, or mayors and governors and Presidents still relevant? By examining the results of the most recent global elections, I would suggest that perhaps something isn’t lining up well with the future we are entering. Tyrants and dictators still rule the lions’ share of organizations. This kind of close-mindedness will not bode well for mankind, or for embracing the need for real and dramatic change in terms of technology. Anyone who thinks they know it all, and rules accordingly, is bound for mediocrity.
Hence, I believe we need to re-examine the idea of ‘leadership’ as whole. When leaders rely on the past to inform the future, and manipulate data to suit an agenda, they’ll lead us right off a cliff. Now, more than ever we need visionaries; leaders who we want to follow because we admire, trust and respect them. Not because they rule with an iron fist.
Our world is changing so quickly that eighty-five percent of companies have reported an urgent need to develop employees with leadership potential. According to Inc.com, too many senior leaders and HR folk have been conditioned to think of leadership only in terms of power and control. However, in this “relationship economy,” people are banking on the emotional currency of trust, transparency, and openness to leverage strong teamwork and business outcomes.
But, how do we find them? And if we did would we know how to provide the fertile environment for them to grow and develop? Would we know how to engage them? Are we even on the same platforms they might be hiding on?
One way to identify the leaders of the future is to know what to look for. In short, there are nine traits good leaders have in common: 1) they ask poignant questions 2) they listen well 3) they are naturally trustworthy 4) they develop those around them 5) they’re driven to succeed 6) they have entrepreneurial spirits 7) they are excellent communicators 8) they can relate to most people, and 9) they treat everyone with equal respect.
Collaboration has always been the keystone to modern leadership. It blurs the lines between “the boss” and employees by focusing on garnering participation across the board, creative thinking, and team building. With collaborative leadership, it’s not about who’s in charge, it’s about what gets done.
Technology has changed how we organize ourselves into groups, share information and create equality. These individuals then group themselves into different social circles and communicate. On the internet, it’s all about engagement and participation. Business leaders who come to this realization and tap into this enthusiasm achieve greater heights than the leaders of the past. In short, when people like their leaders, they are dedicated, enthusiastic, engaged and reliable. That’s what I call a win-win!