Everything You Need to Know About the 9 Key Traits that Define 21st Century Leaders
This is Part 2 of our special series on what qualities define the 21st century business leader. Today’s article explores in-depth the nine qualities that comprise modern, successful leaders.
In Part 1 of this series, we identified the nine key traits that all 21st century leaders need to master. Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these skills.
Key skill No. 1: Personal presence
Personal presence is the dynamic energy that creates followers, energizes teams and builds creditability especially if it is built on authenticity.
Key skill No. 2: High degrees of self-awareness
Self-awareness is critical today as it is no longer acceptable for leaders to blindly act out with their team members. Self-awareness helps leaders understand where they need to either build skills, get support or bring in expertise.
Key skill No. 3: Ability to acknowledge their habitual behaviors for the positive and negative impact
Leaders can no longer act out blindly without consequence. Even in the “old” days when leaders behaved badly, there were unacknowledged consequences that impacted organizational or team performance, morale, employee retention, and ultimately profitability. Acknowledging personal and habitual behaviors and then being willing to put mechanisms in place to change those with a negative impact and bolster or enhance those with positive impacts is critical to everyone achieving their goals and organizational success. Team members know that they don’t have to endure negative or bad behavior from their leaders and they are going public.
Key skill No. 4: Clear and compelling vision
We move toward the pictures we create. It is up to leaders to help their team to create a clear and compelling picture of the future that everyone can move towards. Sharing their vision in a clear and compelling way allows teams to connect to the end game and align their actions in support of getting to that picture of success.
Key skill No. 5: Clear core values that guide their actions and decisions
Values provide boundaries that guide decision-making and move away from “by any means necessary”. This keeps both team members and customers safe, legal, and walking in integrity. No longer can values be nice words that sound good and are placed on the wall or the back of business cards. They must be words to live by.
Key skill No. 6: Facilitative skills to support dialogue and collaboration
The complexity of today’s world and the fast pace of change requires facilitative skills to get team members to share the information they are holding and collaborate to create solutions or innovations that have not been done before.
Key skill No. 7: Ability to see and hear others
Being seen and heard is likely the most powerful experience we have as humans. Leaders who can hear and see their individual team members and the teams under their leadership have the opportunity to powerfully acknowledge and honor their work, motivate high performance, and sustain engagement in ways that keep team members engaged and satisfied.
Key skill No. 8: Practical understanding of systems and how change happens
For those leaders who have a keen understanding of how change happens and how their systems impact them, their industry and their people work, the more complete is the picture of their current reality and their ability to scan their internal and external environment and place their actions and timelines in alignment with the practical reality of their situation.
Key skill No. 9: Spiritual practice that supports both their intuitive abilities and discernment
If you interview any truly successful leader, there is some practice or place they go when all else fails them and they don’t have enough information to make the decision. Often that is a spiritual place be it prayer, nature, meditation, etc. This allows them to access a power larger than themselves and move in a ‘good way’ with a solution that does the least damage to people, planet and profit.
Remember, this is the first time in history that we have four and sometimes five generations in the workforce at the same time. Change is happening at an ever-accelerated pace. Things that were once unheard of are happening regularly or being created.
The 21st Century leader needs to capitalize on their greatest asset, their people. Both the younger generations’ enthusiasm, innovation and creativity as they want to make a contribution and understand how their work makes a difference and the seasoned team members who hold the institutional memory and understand the complexity of their systems and industry enabling them to see the implications of potential changes to the system.
The savvy 21st century leader can harness both of these vital perspectives and support the diverse perspectives hearing and valuing each other. This allows them to use their team’s brilliance to powerfully shape solutions that take the whole organization into consideration and push innovation both internally and externally. These nine facilitative leadership skills of the modern leader support this kind of organizational culture.
Monika Moss-Gransberry is a 30-year entrepreneur, business coach and organizational consultant, author of Life Mapping: A Journey of Self Discovery and Path Finding and The Technology of Doing Creating & Being, both self-mastery books teaching readers how to make their visions real. She is on the faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Initiative and the Gestalt OSD Center. For more information on Monika’s work: www.mossgransberry.com and www.monikakmoss.com