Sunday, June 10, 2012

Three Stages of Modern Leadership

The future of leaders need to have ability & agility to adapt to expedited changes.

Leadership is a timeless topic for every generation, as mankind need effective leadership to advance humanity, also make collective progress & achievement via its influence. From nature business evolution perspective, we may define modern leadership into three stages:

1. The First Stage: Leading at the Business Jungle

 The period during the industrial revolution right through to the beginning of the 2nd world war,  people were largely unskilled in a rapidly advancing marketplace, so they need to be managed. At this stage, leadership was just like leading in the business jungles: masculine style command-control style might be necessary to manage from the chaos to order. The leadership style was stereotypical,: like roaring lions; 

2. The Second Stage: Leading at Grand Plain

 After the 2nd world war, as education and knowledge grew, we saw the emergence of leadership largely because it was a period of rapid change and leadership was tied to change. Analogically, just like the mankind migrated into great plain, well, the world is more peaceful, the leadership teams were expanded, also added a few underdogs--but mainly kept the traditional theme, still not essential enough to shape the new style and influence; 

3. The Third Stage: Leading an Ecosystem

  Now we are in a period of uncertainty & ambiguity, risk aversion, low margins and low growth, digitization and globalization, accelerated changes,  so it is about the time to define new processes, the new capabilities, and the new effective leadership. Today, people are more educated, skilled and diversified. They don't need to be led,  they need to be empowered and even self-managed. The last two stages of leadership are no longer as effective as before,  therefore, we are evolving new ways of refining more effective leadership.

Metaphorically, the mankind needs to get more understanding and mastering the nature ecosystem, the ocean, the mountain, the valley and the sky, so we need the leaders who can swim like fish, or fly like a bird, the one who can dive into the valley, or adapt to the mountain. To put the other way, we need more diversified leadership to balance, voice, and serve. 

The future of leaders needs to have ability & agility to adapt to expedited changes, leading through influence than command & control, more tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, inspire more leaders than only followers, it’s time for the new stage of transformative leadership, and it needs the new ingredients for the future corporate leadership. 


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