Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
Modern Leader Needs to Be——-
Modern leaders will be different. I worked with over twenty-five CEO’s in my role as EVP of The Delhaize Group, as a colleague and as a support for their development as leaders. I experienced many styles and strengths and blind spots of power as they led large companies. They evolved from the previous generation of leaders. They led differently, less command and control, more focus on talent development and more active engagement of associates with the business. So naturally, I now think about the next generation of leaders and what they will need to be.
MODERN LEADERS will need to be :
—CLEAR—This means the ability to create a very sharp edge to the business strategy, knowing the market and cutting away all that does not contribute to serving a very knowledgeable consumer. AND it means clarity about the values the company uses to guide action and comfort with disclosing how decisions are made.
—CONNECTING—The modern leader is the ultimate connector aligning associates with goals and profit, combining the right people on teams and projects, relating to the outside world, and communicating authentically with individuals. The modern leader designs the internet within the business that makes the business work.
—COLLABORATIVE—The modern leader needs to know how to create and encourage collaboration. There will be more and more groups, projects, partnerships that will form and unform. There will be a blurred line between in and out of the company. Knowing how to keep collaboration productive and focused while maintaining the value of working together is a very modern skill.
—CAPABLE—Modern leaders need to prove their worth. There have been too many top leaders whose people didn’t think they knew how to do the job. The new leaders will have to demonstrate their ability, fitness and qualities to do the job. Followers need to know their effort is given to someone who is capable. Do not underestimate the power of a leader who shows she or her are capable.
—CONTROL LITE—The demand for clarity with allow for a form of control that is less burdensome and awkward for associates. New generation associates won’t stand for it. Sharp clarity on goals and freedom to find a way to achieve them will be needed. Learning how to maintain touch with the work of the company without punitive power will be essential
—CONFLICT COMFORTABLE—With demand high, the environment changing, and work being more collaborative with teams connecting and disconnecting, there will be more overt conflict. Get people used to the idea, trained in working well while there are conflicts and realizing that this kind of conflict is not going away.
—CASUAL and COMPANIONABLE—Working in an informal, comfortable environment makes the high demand world we work in more tolerable. It does not mean sloppy or crude or out of control. It does not mean never spiffing up for the right occasion. It means keeping foolish rules out of the way of getting work done and allowing for some fun and restoration of energy.
—CULTURALLY ADEPT—Modern leaders will have to understand and work with and encourage every kind of difference with no bias. That means everything from race to creative types to different functions to different countries to the quirk of their own team to religion to hair style. Modern leaders need every bit of talent they can get their hands on. It is the talent that needs to be seen and used not differences.
—CREATIIVE—Modern leaders are re-designing work and what constitutes a workplace and an employee. Imagination and original ideas are needed. They have to nourish and encourage ideas. This takes giving leeway and allowing more ease in the system. The modern leader needs to be creative or be very patient with those who are.
—COMMANDING—Given the chaotic speedy environment combined with more flexibility and necessary collaboration, and high anxiety in the workplace, the modern leader needs to have the ability to carry authority in many ways other than command and control. It may be a needed voice of wisdom. It may be a demand for an accountability. It may be inspiration to galvanize the company, but the presence of the toleader needs to be strong and able to be modulated to the circumstance.
—CLEVER—The new generation in the workforce is clever. They respect “clever” and they want it in a leader. Clever means “quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas”. I put this near the top of the list because this is a quality that supports, high demand, constant change, new ways of working and serving the consumer. Clever matters.
—CONDUCTOR OF CHANGE—The metaphor I like for modern leaders is the orchestra conductor.There is a “score” that pulls together all the possible sounds into a unique creation that satisfies or transforms the audience. Modern leaders are the conductor of change, following strategy, combining differences and effort, modulating speed and intensity and leading the company to a grand finish—after which comes another performance.The completion of a piece of work or strategy and celebrating it, is not well understood in business. It is motivating, refreshing and helps to face the next performance.
—CONSTANT—The constancy of the modern leader will be an important element of keeping the company steady in confused seas. It will involve having guiding principles to steer the work even when the work itself may be changing. It means a steady hand on the rudder. It means constant guiding without abrupt turns. It means the modern leader must be exceedingly grounded in the core of the business, it’s model for prospering and the values that will sustain it’s health.
—CHARACTER PROOF—Associates have been disengaged and slightly depressed with low energy due to disillusionment with the character of their leaders. Being a leader of character simply means you have a good reputation in and out of the company. There is a moral awareness that guides work and a self awareness of personal impact.
—COURAGEOUS—Most top leaders want to be there. They have learned to live with pressure and being constantly observed and evaluated. They have learned how to make big big mistakes and survive them and move on.They have a tough hide. The courage modern leaders have to have is the guts to be vulnerable for moments of doing the right thing in the face of Wall Street demands, firing a close colleague when necessary, standing up to the Board in defense of a policy that don’t like or aren’t ready for, owning up to disappointing results and leaning into the foundation of character.
I wonder is this asking too much of the modern leader?
I think not.
But, just maybe the modern leader most needs to be–a woman.