It’s a new economy out there. Old models of leadership are falling aside to make way for new thinking. Today’s leadership requires passion, open-mindedness and courage. Here are four key ways modern leaders need to adapt:
1. Be Transparent
Increased compliance regulations, accountability and an exploding online world have rung the death knell on hiding or obscuring information. What we once may have been able to conceal or delay is now surfacing virally through the internet, social media, and exposing documentaries (think Food Inc., Facebook, online TV). Leaders are held accountable not only to their shareholders and clients, but to society as a whole. In order to develop trust and confidence, leaders need to be transparent about their results, personal choices, and affiliations. Being transparent on a tactical level includes sharing successes and challenges with team members and key stakeholders, being self-aware about personal strengths and weaknesses, and coaching and mentoring team members to be proactive and tackle challenges head-on.
2. Be Curious
A new generation of leaders is emerging (Gen X and Y) who will challenge existing ways of thinking, being, and doing business. Presenting yourself as a perpetual expert will shut down new ideas and limit available options. The new “curious leader” knows it is not necessary to have all the answers. To move ahead faster in the new economy, be willing to step out of the expert role and continuously ask yourself and your team simple questions like: “Is this a good idea?” “What else could we be doing?” or “How can we make it better, faster, or easier to use?”
3. Be in on the Hip and Happening
Because today’s world is changing so quickly, leaders need to be in on the latest trends and always consider how bigger global issues will affect their ability to lead effectively. A great way to do so is to notice what thought-leaders like Apple, Google or Nintendo are doing and consider how your business can emulate those strategies or thinking processes. Joining key groups on Facebook or LinkedIn provides invaluable insight into what is hot right now. Another alternative is to sign up for daily updates from local business newspapers and popular magazines like Fast Company and Inc. to get in on the latest news.
4. Be a Flawless Follower
While leaders are still charged with setting direction, communicating the vision and producing measurable results, the old autocrat model doesn’t work in the new economy. Gen X and Y workers expect leaders to also be part of the team. That means leaders need skills at following as well as leading. Think of the analogy of ballroom dancing – one partner is always leading but he must skillfully move backward and forward, adapting constantly to subtle changes. While the concept of “followership” is relatively new, leaders should expect their skills at following to play an increasing role in their success as the economy moves forward.