Creating and driving a successful business isn't easy precisely because much of it is based on encouraging and inspiring employees to go the extra mile consistently of their own volition and move in sync.  To do that, employees need to not only have a deep belief in the company's mission but also feel that they are helping to change the world for the better via such company goals.  This is a key part of new trends in leadership, and its one in which Alibaba CEO Jack Ma brilliantly demonstrated via a letter he just sent to the company's shareholders.

Transcend The Logo

In his letter, Ma first talks about the company's history in brief to date. But he then moves quickly to an area that not only beautifully engages shareholders but also demonstrates charismatic leadership traits that he leverages to create an energized employee base by discussing the need to contribute to a healthy world economy.

"As I said at our 18th anniversary all-hands meeting, we aim to foster an economy in which small business, young people and women in developing and under-developed nations can participate in and benefit from globalization. To this end, the direction and areas in which we will pursue our business will not be the same as anyone else. We are fully committed to creating the infrastructure for commerce in an inclusive economy because Alibaba is led by our ideals and vision.

It's about differentiating your company in the eyes of employees in order to create sustainable, strong teams. When a leader shows sincere corporate commitment to social good and diversity in innovative and consistent ways, this action compels employees to reach their workplace goals because they understand their efforts are toward something bigger than themselves."

This is particularly important to the Millennial workforce. As I mention in my book this demographic, though certainly not reflective of all 80+ million individuals, is interested in making a difference.  Possessing cultural intelligence about such new values and mindset is key in running a successful business.

In addition, Ma says, "We aim to be a platform that will enable the creation of 100 million jobs, serve two billion consumers and support 10 million profitable small businesses...we hope to enable more developing countries, small businesses and young people to share the benefits of globalization and free trade." This is the type of vision and language that leaders can employ to excite their team and even surpass benchmarks. It's about introducing and driving large missions that are transformative in nature for the entire world. Even a small business can easily be apply such strategy via local efforts and partnerships that have global impact so that your company becomes part of today's narrative.

Depart From Standard

Ma also minces no words in explaining how Alibaba will achieve such massive goals.  He demonstrates a key trait needed by today's leaders which is a deep understanding an application of innovation.

Says Ma, "To achieve our goals, we will increase our investment in technology development and innovation. Successful companies of the future will the market through innovation rather than big marketing budgets. Technology and innovation will be the source of vitality for the Alibaba economy, while sharing and inclusiveness will be its core value."

This is about using leading-edge technology to not only drive bottom line but to also create a business that is well-integrated into the fabric of society through "soft" metrics.  Strong leaders today will look to improve social conditions right alongside their company's day-to-day work through emerging technology.  Innovation of thought in terms of both developing and leveraging new tech resources but also in regard to the corporation's place in society and its contributions will continue to grow to become one of the biggest narratives of our time.

Indeed the new trend in leadership is about becoming acutely aware of public sentiment not only to drive sales but to hook into a complete cultural mindset to ensure that one's company is relevant and potentially even iconic, Today, as Ma says, "Only by contributing real value to society can a company build a sustainable business."