MENTION the word leadership and everyone conjures a different mental image from George Washington, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher to Mother Theresa or even their grandparents.
Yes, leadership or how we define leadership continues to evolve and yet that evolution appears to be a spinning ball that always returns full circle.
Today, leadership has been dissected into various styles such as servant, innovative or situational. Right now, agile leadership is making the keynote rounds. All of these styles contribute to future downs because the essence of leadership is not addressed.
Years ago Peter Drucker said “leadership is all about results”. Later Drucker expanded that definition of leadership to “lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limits”.
This is and probably always will be the essence of leadership, yesterday, today and tomorrow. If there is any change, it is that future change will be more on leadership talents within each person to lead his or her own life forward.
For if you cannot lead yourself forward with a focus on results, then how can you lead anyone else, or why would anyone want to follow you?
This internal leadership focus is what I identify as self-leadership. To be able to maximise self-leadership, it begins by having crystal clarity as to whom one is as an individual.
What I know to be true is over 90% of the leaders I have worked with do not know with crystal clarity their talents. This lack of knowledge prevents them from recognising, leveraging and maximising new leadership opportunities.
Another future change is that of an old skill which will become a desired and coveted new skill. This old skill is the ability to communicate through the written word.
The internet has expanded communication specifically within the area of social media. From small business owners to CEOs of multi-billion dollar organisations, they are engaged in sharing information, insight and market trends through the written word.
The internet has revolutionised written communication and the written word is being broadcast to thousands of individuals in a short space of time at every turn of the second, minute, or hour, through email and other social media platforms.
Using email effectively
According to a study by McKinsey & Company, people spend 28% of their working week reading and replying to emails.
However, despite the risk of becoming overloaded with messages, it remains one of the most powerful and efficient communication tools. Using email is a quick and easy way to stay connected with your team members, customers and stakeholders, particularly those who are geographically dispersed. However, it can be very easy to send ineffective emails, create the wrong impression, or even damage your reputation with sloppy practices.
The implication of this development is that tomorrow’s leaders will be writing their own thoughts and sharing them with others without the assistance of copy editors.
The first President of the US, George Washington, in his farewell address to the US Congress and American people demonstrated this skill better than any other leader of that time and probably better than many so called leaders of today. He wrote from his heart about what he knew and was not afraid to share what he thought might happen.
Writing will become a primary leadership talent for all roles from executives to managers to even those in sales. Human beings are hungry to learn, to expand their own knowledge. When they discover “thought leaders,” they will be more likely to follow these individuals and share what they have just read.
As always, ethical behaviour will be present in future leadership. People have more access to uncovering those leaders with less than ethical behaviours (thanks in part to the internet). Hiding behind mixed messages will be quickly discovered. Consistency of behaviour through written messages and personal interactions will separate the “true leaders” from the rest of the pack.
Benefits of good communication
People who are good communicators understand people and interact with them in a meaningful way. They are sincere, knowledgeable about what they are communicating, have respect for who they are communicating to and have the ability to express thoughts clearly and politely.
You can inspire people to the greatness in which they are called to, direct them when they are lost, strengthen their self image and boost confidence, help find solutions to their problems, help them become successful, give them peace, save them time and money, and basically make a huge difference in their life.
This is a mutual benefit for a good communicator as you will help people in ways you may not even dream of when communicating effectively and in turn you will achieve your goals and be rewarded with the rich life you have communicated to others. Most successful leadership comes through effective communication and the same holds true with personal leadership also.
Business leaders tend to use communication more actively which attributes to so much of their success. We all have the capability within us to do so also.
The future of leadership will rest more upon who you are than what you say. Your actions will be the deciding factor. And this is why the future of leadership will come full circle back to you as an individual leader.
Robert Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.