We know there is a global leadership crises, but what exactly is the crises or what lies at the heart of it? There are three challenges that come to mind:
1. Authenticity struggle: There used to be a time when leaders could almost hide behind their titles or positions; when they could hide in their office on the top floor; when no one knew what they earned; when they could say one thing yet do another and when some discovered this it could be squashed quickly.
It was a time when negative news could – to some degree – be contained before it travelled too far. In short, while the need for authentic behaviour was always deserved by followers it wasn’t practiced or even taught adequately.
Today leaders are completely visible. Their every move is monitored because they are surrounded by eye witnesses that are perfectly connected with the rest of the world, to whom they often seem to demonstrate more loyalty than their leader. Leaders have to know themselves and be connected with their authentic selves like never before; they must be authentic and they haven’t been taught sufficiently how to constantly hold the mirror up and ask and answer difficult, relevant questions about themselves, then implement their discoveries. Our leadership development industry bombards them with self awareness modules, but this isn’t enough…it needs to be a regular, even daily event. We are playing catch up in this department.
2. Follower attitude: Followers aren’t what they used to be. They have a voice, mostly through social media and this gives them a sense of power and confidence. The digital age also gives them a collective knowledge with information readily available – information is power.
What hasn’t surfaced though is a collective wisdom to bring much needed sanity and balance. So, what we see is society lashing out like “little children” via social media platforms, jumping to conclusions and making harsh and premature judgments.
It is as though there is this new found toy or gadget that we need to get used to and it happens to be something that can equalize the playing field between the haves and the have nots, the powerful and the vulnerable. But this gives leaders a new reality that they are grappling with. Society – and especially the millennials – simply will not by default accept title and position. More than ever it needs to be earned, within the realm of unrealistic time expectations – the NOW and “SCREENager” generation – and a “childish” collective – playing with and getting used to its social media toy.
3. Technology & the digital miracle: This is probably the cause of both the above challenges. In fact, it’s almost too obvious to write about. We have been given too much knowledge and information, too much connectivity and transparency and we don’t know how to manage it wisely.
Hopefully we will learn in years to come. But if our leaders don’t learn quickly how to manage this new, fast and fluid world we will probably follow them down the destructive path. Or perhaps society as a collective will lead upwards and “beat” leaders into submission.
Leaders of today must become completely authentic, so that they can confidently face and mobilize the “New” follower and with enthusiasm adopt the transparency, fluidity and power that our digital revolution offers.
CEO & Co-Founder Leadership Platform
Co-Founder Think Lead – Creators of Global Leadership Platform
Global Leadership Platform: thinklead.app
Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement?
Email Adriaan on firstname.lastname@example.org for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.