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Developing the 21st Century Leader

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21st Century Leader
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Being a leader today is vastly different from what it was 50 years ago. How can we set up for the future?

Leadership is one of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship. The world of business continues to evolve, and you must be careful not to model your leadership ideas on past or outdated principles. Being a dominating and overbearing leader might have worked in the 50s, but that doesn’t fly today. You won’t get far being the hipster boss either. So what do you need to imbibe as the 21st century leader?

There are still cornerstones of leadership that have remained constant over the years. Attributes such as innovation, leadership by example are amongst the many qualities that everybody wants to see in a leader.

To be successful as a 21st century leader today, you must be decisive, insightful and constantly going against the grain to continue innovating and pushing boundaries. According to Mark Stevens, the author of Your management Sucks, “You need to wage constructive war continuously,” Stevens says. “It’s not just firing people who aren’t doing the job, but [also] saying, ‘What are we not doing right?’ and then acting on it. It’s a war on complacency.”

There are several factors at play today that demand innovative thinking. One of the most prominent being the continuing advancement in technology. Other factors that center on the people are the increasing diversity of the nation’s works force and the impending shortages that will be caused by the retiring baby boomers.

Entrepreneurs and Leaders will have to constantly adapt to changing circumstances, and this will be one of the most important attributes that ensure survival and continued growth. It can be tough knowing exactly where and how to change to accommodate external variables, and this makes adaptability a complicated process, but these choices must be made. You cannot afford to stay put in one spot.

Companies need to be structured in such a way where adaptability comes naturally. It goes beyond the purview of just the leader. An environment where everybody is comfortable to express their views and opinions will be crucial to this endeavor.

Today’s leaders also need to be very self-aware. They need to be capable of honest introspection and change in ways that best suit their company goals and visions. This is an important first step before attempting to impact these values on anybody else. When you identify what your strengths are as a leader and your weaknesses you can better play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

There also needs to be a sense of purpose. Experts still can’t agree on whether having a strong vision is a good thing. Leadership is about going somewhere, and you need a clear picture of yourself and how you want to get there.

Vision can be too vague and often people get lost in these visions that they do not see or respond to any other data. It is perhaps more beneficial to have a sense of purpose instead. This purpose can be easily expressed and shared amongst the workers in the company.

Decisiveness

There is no point in having meetings upon meetings and not reaching a clear resolution afterward. The world is moving very fast today, and decisions must be made very quickly. There needs to be a system where consensus is reached as quickly as possible, and if this is becoming too tedious, the leader must have the backing to step in and make a decision.

Men and women have been observed to behave differently when it comes to making decisions. Females rely a lot more on intuition and men tend to focus a lot more on the bottom line. A blend of these two traits will be excellent for the 21st century leader.

Collaboration

A leader cannot single-handedly solve all the problems in the company. Leaders need to create an environment that is conducive for the exchange of ideas and the desire to solve problems as a unit. We need managers who are willing to work across boundaries and think outside of the box. There needs to be constant communication and collaboration amongst all parties involved and a desire to find solutions.

CEOs, Leaders and business owners must lead by example and show commitment and dedication that they wish to see in their employees. People will often mirror your actions and very rarely do what you say. You need to constantly be at the forefront of every issue and every project and make them see how committed you are to the survival of the business. Being a leader is not just about cutting yourself the biggest cheques. You have to walk the walk also.

Finally, as a leader, there must be a determination to executing. So many people are stuck on the visions of the company and very rarely execute. There needs to be a structure and strategy of operations that move things from thought to act consistently.

Chris is an American journalist, author, contributing editor to BuzzFeed. He was raised in New York, Canada, and Vermont, and attended New York University.

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