Last week I led a daylong seminar on leadership trends. Briefly we discussed change, technology, social media, worldviews, globalization, economic issues, contemporary spiritualities, the emerging role of neurobiology, and even the arts and design. But the workshop mainly focused on four keys to effective contemporary leadership. These are old keys, pretty basic, but they keep appearing, at least in the leadership publications that I have been reading and in the leaders that I watch.
- Character. Competence, commitment and passion are crucial for good leadership but in times of need and crisis we look for leaders with authenticity, clear values, and courage. We want leaders with character, men and women who have shown they can be trusted. Maybe the importance of character has risen because we’ve seen the fall of so many recent leaders. Often these people have allowed character flaws to take root and grow until they pull down the leaders along with their careers, organizations, and reputations.
- Culture. A culture is a way we view and do things. Cultures include agreed-upon guidelines for acceptable behavior, relationships, and standards of right and wrong. Every country and community has its own cultures (more than one) but so does every family, church, business, office, group and university. Football teams have cultures, as do different factions in political parties, denominations and professions. Each of us lives in a variety of cultures like these. In a world of Internet connectivity and greater awareness of global diversity, every effective leader needs cultural sensitivity and cross-cultural relationship skills.
- Coaching and Mentoring. These are old terms (an article in the October 2011 Harvard Business Review prefers words like sponsors and protégés). Whatever terms are used, there is renewed focus on talent development and building into emerging leaders. Most often these involve one-to-one relationships for developing awareness and skills.
- Communication. Recent tributes to Steve Jobs laud his creativity, innovation, courage and competence. But how effective would Jobs have been if he had lacked effective communication skills? Consider this: if you can’t communicate clearly can you be an effective leader?
In my seminar last week what should I have added to my list? Why? Please give your comments.