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What Will Leadership Look Like in the Future?
The overall style of leadership is changing. This is partially due to the demographic changes because Gen X and especially Gen Y do not value leadership as we know it. Another reason is technology. We are in a technological revolution, and it is impacting everything from the way we read to the way we lead.
This new leadership will require teaching some “old dogs” some “new tricks.” The Baby Boomers, who are primarily the leaders at the top of today’s organizations, grew up in a workforce that valued command and control. In fact, this style of leadership has been going on for centuries so we are really shaking things up as we begin to look at what the future will hold and work to help leaders figure out how to lead going forward. We must remember there is no one right answer. Leadership is like art. Every leader brings his/her own color to the painting, but in general what we will see is the old leadership style of command and control giving way to a more enlightened inspiring type of leadership. There will be more asking versus telling, more collaboration and a lot more transparency. Today’s workforce wants to know what is going on, and they have little trouble asking leadership to be held accountable. They want to be addressed in a friendly and informative way and to be treated as intelligent contributors to the life and future of the company.
The modern style of leadership will emerge primarily from the demands of the workforce. If the workforce demands that leaders put their hands on the table, then that is what will be required. However, there is some risk with this very transparent type of leadership. Companies can lose their competitive advantage if they are forced to share too much. Let us take Apple for example. One of their strategic advantages is that they hold their cards close to the vest. If they shared what they are planning to do and how they are planning to do it with all their employees, it would inevitably be leaked, and competitors would launch a timely counterattack in the marketplace. If they shared how great all their senior executives are along with their contact information, they would inevitably be recruited heavily, and some would leave.
We are going to need a two-way type of evolution in the workplace. Yes, the leaders must grow and change to lead the upcoming generations and technology changes, but the workforce must also be educated in that they can ask for too much information and too much say which can bog down processes and slow decision-making to a halt. The political field is a perfect example. The political leaders must share everything, hear everything, and consider everyone when deciding. No matter what decision they make, someone will be mad about it, and they could easily impact their own career by not taking anyone and everyone into consideration. The more they try to be inclusive, the more they bog down the system with laws and regulations. It is mind numbing. We do not want our corporations to turn into governmental type environments. If they do become like the government, we would have to stop calling it free enterprise and start calling it bound up enterprise.
CEO of EDA, Inc.
From the Culture Blog
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