Leadership No Longer Means Leadership!

How the meaning of leadership is changing in the 21st Century

“To lead other well, we must help them to reach their potential…being on their side, encourage them, giving them power…
“To lead other well, we must help them to reach their potential…being on their side, encourage them, giving them power…

Traditional Leadership

From the literature, here are some characteristics traditionally associated with leadership:

  • Making big decisions
  • Building a vision
  • Inspiring people to follow the strategy
  • Being in a leadership role
  • Leaving a legacy
  • The manager, supervisor, boss, or even the CEO
  • Being the hero

Traditional Definition: Is it Leadership or Management?

Many think that the following is a good, straightforward leadership definition:

The art of getting things done through people

Actually, that’s Mary Parker Follett’s definition of management. No wonder some people struggle to explain how management and leadership differ!

The Meaning of Leadership is Changing

At the beginning of a John Maxwell’s video on the Five Levels of Leadership,¹ Maxwell says, “…and by the way, leadership is not a noun. It’s a verb. It’s action. It’s moving.” If you majored in English, you might not agree. How often do you hear, “I will leadership you!”

Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the senior-most levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them. And I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.

Before Sinek’s time, Servant Leadership, the first revolutionary wave, rejects the traditional top-down thinking in which the executive equals leader and the subordinates equal followers. With servant leadership, followers no longer serve the leader, and the servant leader serves the subordinates.

The New Leadership Principles

In my book, Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, I report the findings of my analysis of a selection of contemporary leadership authors. In that analysis, I identified seven principles of the new leadership:

  1. Connect with others
  2. Put others first
  3. Give up control
  4. Encourage change
  5. Collaborate with others
  6. Develop leadership practices continuously

What should this New Leadership be called?

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Notation

¹ Unfortunately, this video was removed from YouTube due to unauthorized publication from John Maxwell.

About the author

Gary is a Leadership Author, Researcher, Consultant, and Podcast Guest. His latest book, What the Heck Is Leadership and Why Should I Care?, is available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook. You can learn more about Gary and his other books at https://www.garyadepaul.com.

Written by

Gary is a speaker, author, researcher, and leadership futurist. https://www.garyadepaul.com

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