During this U.S. presidential election year, candidates on both sides of the aisle aren’t wasting a second telling us why they’re best qualified to lead the country — or, more often, why their opponent is not. Politics aside, the media’s nonstop campaign coverage may compel us to think more deeply about what it means to be a good leader, whether of a nation or an organization. It may even call into question our own leadership abilities.
No matter your current position, are you taking the time to develop your leadership skills? The key traits of a good leader stand the test of time. Think about government, business, and charitable leaders over the years that have been held in high esteem — trustworthiness, respect, strong communication skills, and relationship-building often come to mind. We are naturally drawn to these leadership strengths.
Even so, newer leadership theories have developed as current trends come into play. In a recent Center for Creative Leadership white paper, Future Trends in Leadership Development, Nick Petrie describes the shift from the single, heroic leader to collective leadership. “There is a transition occurring from the old paradigm in which leadership resided in a person or role, to a new one in which leadership is a collective process that is spread throughout networks of people,” Petrie writes. “The question will change from ‘Who are the leaders?’ to ‘How do we spread leadership capacity throughout the organization and democratize leadership?’”
Another change taking place is the increasing value of external perspective. “It will simply not be enough to know the business and how to get things done in a particular company,” Ian Ziskin writes in “Developing the Next Generation of Leaders,” a post on the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Blog. “Rather, breadth of perspective about what is happening around and outside organizational walls, the ability to see around corners, and the willingness to appreciate and learn from others will become highly valued.”
Other trends that are having an impact on the way we define leadership include our society’s increasing desire for authenticity and the rising popularity of mindfulness as a practice to help build teams and enhance effectiveness.
Even for the natural-born leaders among us, there’s much we can do to improve our leadership capability to succeed in today’s workplace. As it turns out, PCMA’s 2016 Education Conference (June 26–29 in St. Louis) is a great place to start. Three featured speakers will explore leadership in today’s changing business climate from a variety of viewpoints. You can even get a preview from one of the General Session speakers — award-winning entrepreneur, author, and Silicon Valley executive Ben Casnocha.