The command and control leadership model with its focus on process, targets and top-down directives is being replaced by an emphasis on interconnectivity, relationship and sustainability.
Organisations are shifting to a focus on business purpose that goes far beyond having a corporate social responsibility agenda. Employees expect their employers to create a culture and climate that contributes positively to their lives as well as the communities and countries in which they operate. Rather than just being paid, they expect to continually learn new skills, have the opportunity to contribute beyond the day job and secure personal recognition – things that provide a sense of purpose, autonomy and mastery – as their prime motivators and sources of satisfaction.
Increasing numbers of young people are embracing an entrepreneurialism that shuns big organisations for their career, and that requires a right brain approach to navigate outside traditional hierarchical structures.
Leaders are supposed to pore over figures looking for the evidence that allows them to take a decision. Objectivity, evidence, quantification, rationality – those are the supposed buttresses for modern business leadership. Psychologists have called the rational approach “left brain”, the part of our mental equipment that deals well with logical and analytical thinking and is driven by the rational – such as objectivity, evidence and quantifying results.
If business success requires leaders to be able to engage the hearts and minds of a younger generation then rationality will hardly help them to meet people’s emotional needs and ethical beliefs. It increasingly appears that an effective business armoury is going to involve something more – a “right brain” or “whole brain” approach. This approach relies far more on giving value to personal connectivity, intuition, insight and emotional intelligence.
The old structures are dissolving as people increasingly work in partnerships and alliances using outsourced staff. Leaders need to help people develop an ability to handle this looser model and operate effectively within a web of connections and conflicting demands.
Vulnerability is becoming a business benefit to those leaders who choose to be bold. We are seeing leaders demonstrating curiosity and investing in the development of their right-brain capacities of emotional connection and intuition. In psychology, after the dominance of cognition throughout the 20th century, psychologists are willing to research emotion. Leaders who previously would rather have keeled over with a heart attack at the board table than admit vulnerability are now making headlines for seeking sabbaticals, introducing mindfulness and meditation into the workplace or tendering resignations giving stress and burnout as the cause.
The leaders’ role is to help them achieve this and new models of business leadership are emerging to help them engage with this dramatically changing landscape. A leader’s qualities include conceptualisation, foresight, listening, empathy, awareness and healing. Leaders are the guardians of their organisations. To survive and thrive organisations need to look to the longer term, and strive for a positive impact on people, planet and profit. Those that will be most successful will be those that can align the “three “Ps and move their companies onto a longer-term footing.
Are you on your way to leadership, or already a leader? Your leadership style, whether positive or negative, matters more than you realize. Analyse your own behaviour and ask yourself – do you inspire your team or discourage them? Throughout history, we see that it’s the optimists, the believers, the dreamers, the doers, and the positive leaders who change the world.
There is a difference between a boss and a leader. A boss is motivated by compensation, but a leader portrays deep and committed interest in the team. Even if the team is not his by his own choice, he feels responsible for their work and actions. This relationship is characterized by longevity and consistent presence, with or without significant compensation.
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