Leadership Challenges of 21st Century
A Paper on Leadership: A Glance into Challenges for 21st Century Leader Abstract Leaders have always been our source of inspiration, passion and motivation to make us believe, try and achieve things that we may not have envisioned to achieve. However, with the growing complexities, rate at which changes are occurring and other dynamics of the corporate world, the leaders and leadership is being tested more than ever before. It seems that the old leadership styles and fundamentals are not effective anymore or, may be, have lost their relevance completely.
This paper tries to look into the need of the contemporary business scenario and to understand the aspects that a leader must focus in order to defy the challenges in front of them. The paper propound that to be effective in such a scenario, there is immense need for widening the horizon, inclusion, managing and taking advantage of the diversity and focus on creating future leaders instead of centralized heroic figures called leader. This paper also strongly advocates that all this has to be built around a strong ethical system that rests on an accepted and internalized foundation of common and constant core values.
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Though the future is uncertain and hazy and still there is a long way to go in 21st century, by doing so the leaders will be able to be ahead of time and change, as a leader must. Introduction: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. ” – Stephen R. Covey Joel Barker, a futurologist gives us a simple, yet insightful definition of the term “leader. ” According to him leader is a person whom others “opt” to follow, to go someplace they would not go by themselves. That “someplace” is, of course, is a place in the future filled with uncertainties.
This statement necessitate that a leader is a person who does not command followership. Rather, others “opt to follow” him. Especially true in times of uncertainty and dynamism, leaders must focus on leading their organizations through the necessary changes…not just managing them. The job of a manager is to keep the current system operating; to maintain consistency, control, order, and predictability while minimizing risk. Change, however, calls for challenging the status quo, creating new systems and ways of operating and sometimes taking risks. That’s the job of a leader In core, Leaders deal with two things: complexities and opportunities.
We need leadership to steer us away from complexities and to steer us towards opportunities. The focus on capability building, identifying and unleashing potential and energy is a key to counter such complexities and to take the advantage of such opportunities for ensuring long term sustainability. The entire Corporate World globally need effective leadership having multiple traits like Vision, Energy, Enthusiasm, Warmth, Integrity, Intelligence, Persistence and Perseverance. Accordingly to Venu Srinivasan, C M TVS Motor Company “Leadership is seen as a three-pronged situational variable.
It is as much dependant on the leader as a person as on the nature of people being led, their culture, background and expectations, and the task or situation at hand and”. Fig. 1. 0 Variables Defining Leadership The essence of leadership is in creating an unusual new value that does not exist yet, enlisting the support of people and carrying them across a abyss that separates the current state from the desired state. The ability of a leader to create such value depends on two things: Futuristic Vision and innovation. According to Peter Drucker, most problems cannot be solved.
You can only stay ahead of them by envisioning them much before you encounter them. It has never been truer than in the hyper-dynamic present times and it will be even more relevant in the future. Secondly, The power of innovation is directly linked to the existence of problems. Leaders with innovation create opportunities for millions of people when everyone else see just millions of problems. One such trendsetter is Dr. Devi Shetty, who’s pioneering Narayana Hrudayala in Bangalore is able to profitably deliver free cardiac surgery to the peasants of Karnataka through an insurance scheme for which all they have to pay is Rs. a month as premium The Changing Scenario: There are a plethora of powerful economic, social, technological and cultural forces that are shaping and reshaping the “marketplace” in which we operate, A few of such transformational forces of particular relevance are * Technological Advancements including both the instantaneous and borderless nature of communication and data/knowledge sharing * Globalization as they affect the economic development and socio-cultural implications of our work; * People, both in terms of talent availability/demographics and sourcing, as well as in fostering and sustaining innovation and creativity. Natural Resource limitations, which will become a dominant force in the way we think about sustaining in the coming decades * Rising consumer expectations Fig. 2. 0 The Transformational Forces for Leadership Changing markets, flatter organizations and new partnering arrangements have given 21st century leaders many roles, multiple stakeholders and an increasingly fragmented job where they continually face trade-offs in time, energy and focus. Their endeavor includes: * Matching their leadership style to the changing scenario * Holding multiple perspectives without being overloaded Working with others in virtual teams, often in other countries * Articulating a compelling future vision * Cutting unnecessary overheads today while building for tomorrow. It is vital to see the complexity and pace at which these changes are happening. The key is not in how they might be avoided, but what we must do to adapt fast and keep up the pace. And therefore, the demands on leadership capabilities are being tested today more than ever as they position their organizations to meet the fast moving demands of the 21st century.
This complex world demands new leadership beliefs and behaviors – not just from single CEO leaders, or even the whole top team – but from leaders distributed throughout the organization, leaders who can motivate, empower, articulate and innovate. The Leadership Challenges: Maybe the traditional leadership no longer operates effectively given the new business challenges where obsolete leadership models are less effective in dealing with current issues and need to be completely redefined. In 21st century, there is a profound shift from the mechanist view of organization to living organic organization.
Now the organization is not merely a structure consisting of parts that need to be ‘oiled’ if order to function together smoothly. Instead, organizations are now living organisms that require effortful monitoring, coordination and direction by someone, typically a ‘leader’. The pressure is now on to find answers to the question: ‘What Leadership Challenges we have in the 21st century? To answer this and other questions, let us try to uncover the main challenges and daily practices of leadership against the backdrop of contemporary dynamic business climate.
Larger Perspective: Leaders cannot any longer have a vision that is local, exclusive and narrow. In a globalized world, only a larger, more beneficial and more inclusive vision will hold good in order that it becomes sustainable. So, whether we are looking at issues like food, shelter, well being or the security or our environment, the world will be united in its pain and, for that matter, its gain. We will not be able to be selectively isolated. The 21st century leader ought to have a larger perspective beyond just thinking of my enterprise, my state or my country.
Creating and Maintaining Diversity: All leaders work with teams. These teams include diverse individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and even ethnicity’s. One of the greatest challenges of leadership in modern society is finding ways to create a unified front among team members. This is often difficult when members of a team may remain at remote areas. The 21st century leader will have to be comfortable in dealing with diversity. They will not seek comfort in sameness, but will celebrate differences and see the associated tension as an opportunity for pursuing a higher and better order of things.
Leader can overcome the challenges associated with creating and preserving a diversified team by encouraging horizontal communication and knowledge sharing. What this means is information does not come from the top-down alone, but instead from person to person. Dealing with volume and complexities: Today’s organizations have to work across time zones, deal with a greater number of customers, nationalities, cultural differences and increased volumes of transactions. While every leader will have to increase personal comfort in dealing with volume, they will also need to learn to deal with complexity.
Sometimes, complexity will even mean dealing with unscripted and unprecedented events that may have a massively unsettling impact on the way things are. Consider 9/11. Such events give you no time to think, plan, strategize, examine alternatives, or to ruminate. They will only have time to act – and to act fast. Managing Information: A most important challenge for 21st century leaders is to extract and synthesize knowledge core, from the increasingly voluminous data flowing worldwide, applicable to the people, missions, and technologies required for the effective sustainability.
Therefore, information management and strategic vision skills are important leadership vital for 21st century. Developing Future Leaders: Some of the world’s best leaders are defined by their “charisma” or ability to inspire and motivate others. A leader must remain committed to the cause, but also recognize and develop the potential in employees to achieve great things. In the words of Walter Lippmann “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men [and women], the conviction and the will to carry on. More in the past than we will see in the future, the leader was a person with super-heroic capabilities embedded in one body. In the future, the style of leadership that will be celebrated will have less to do with individual leadership capability, and more to do with building leadership capacity. The 21st century will be a time for securing unusual leverage by building capacity outside of one great individual. Shared Core Value System: Peter Drucker once said that it is values that help us in times of great change. In fact, only when we keep our values as a constant are we able to change everything else around them.
The greater the rate of change around us, there will be greater demand for value articulation and value constancy because every change is potentially destructive. Krishna’s message “yada yada hi dharmashya glanir bhavati Bharata…” is less a religious and more a leadership statement of an unavoidable reality. The task of helping people to choose a set of values, and to articulate them, and then helping in the internalization process to ensure that every member of their team and the organization share a common mission and vision, is a fundamental leadership requirement ? nd that is not going to change It is no longer enough to stimulate followers through valiant gestures and charisma alone. Today’s visionary leaders need to focus on growing deep organizational citizenship amongst others by clearly communicating how a company’s mission and vision will benefit not just the organization, but also the people working for it, and by generating a shared and common understanding of a dynamic and evolving vision for the future.
Robust Ethical Standards & Governance: The quest for more sustainable and ethical organizations prompted by the business scandals of the nineties and the increased awareness that we cannot continue to invade our world’s natural resources without considering its future sustainability are also putting extraordinary pressures on today’s leaders. The essence of effective 21st century leadership is creating a foundation of robust ethical standards. In the words of Dr.
Toner, Ethics is the study of good and evil, of right and wrong, of duty and obligation in human conduct, and of reasoning and choice about them. This reasoning arises from the well-built and internalized value system. The leader has to play a strong role model breathing the values like integrity, loyalty, and dedication to teamwork. Also, the leader is to develop and put in place the culture and systems for transparency, governance and shared responsibility to ensure sustainable development and growth.
Inclusion: In the words of Jack Welsh “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others. ” Mentoring, guiding, & being a role model are essential leadership quality for today’s leader like always. It is about helping others to grow, learn new skills, offer people new challenges and opportunities, and offering honest feedback and appraisal. However, in today’s scenario, the larger leadership imperative is to help people to “make sense” of what is going on.
Not as a post-mortem of things, the need for this ‘sense-making’ is in real time and must happen as things are unfolding around them. People need someone to simply make logic of what is going on around them and to put the pieces together so that they can move on with their lives. Also, the 21st century leader must be able to know and feel the pain of people around him, by understanding, empathizing and open communication. This is vital for extracting the absolute commitment and contribution as a leader.
Collaboration: Effective leadership will become much more “interdependent,” rather than being independent. This could be more clearly understood keeping in mind the complexity and spread of the organizations. Leadership has to be a more collaborative effort than being a centralized phenomenon Conclusion: It is just the starting of 21st century and it is true that we do not quite know what kind of world we will inhabit in the century ahead. What events will unfold and how will the world basically change and shape-up? What crises and opportunities mother nature and our actions will create?
And what challenges the leaders will have? However, looking at the present scenario and the rate of changes happening globally it can be said that the leaders have to continually challenge the status quo and be more anticipative rather than being responsive. For this they need to broaden their horizon, develop others as leaders, and be more empathetic to command willing acceptance and commitment. And this is vital to mention that all this has to be developed on solid foundation of ethical value system that will endure time and turbulence. Rahul Agarwal
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