Like any other field, leadership goes through trends and changes--and if you want to be successful, you need to stay on top of them. Old-school leadership is just that, and what we do today is very different. To understand leadership, you need to be able to separate historic thought from current practice.
Help your thinking evolve with these concepts from contemporary leadership:
1. Authenticity and transparency rule. In the age of social media, there's no getting away with dishonesty or cover-ups. If you or your company lies, cheats, or fudges numbers, the odds that you will be exposed are higher than ever.
2. Your brand is your reputation. It used to be that when people talked about reputation they focused on your public character and your past. Today your personal brand is your reputation--and it's what you say and do today that defines how people perceive you. Make sure your brand represents you well.
3. If you're not social you're missing the boat. As a leader you need to be able to communicate and be visible, and in today's world that means not just being present on social media, but being savvy and having something to say. Hiding behind a closed boardroom door is no longer an option.
4. Collaboration is the new currency. If you're not sharing, partnering, or collaborating, you're failing to engage in the new currency of business. The price--and it's a significant one--will be paid by your leadership and your organization.
5. New choices abound. Around 35 percent of the current workforce is self-employed, and the numbers are just getting larger. People are switching careers in midlife and thinking entrepreneurially. There are still a few people who take a nine-to-five job in the field they majored in, but the age of knowing you have to please a boss to get ahead is over.
6. Interconnection means freedom. It used to be that leadership controlled the conversation. Now, with email, the Internet, and social media close at hand for so many people, the leadership of power has been replaced by a leadership of connectedness.
7. People want a say in their future. If you try to lead with hierarchy, you will be challenged--and it's not likely you'll fare well. Those who seek power and love bureaucracy will find it harder to survive as organizations become flatter, which puts more accountability in the hands of each employee and even clients.
8. Community is critical. Organizations don't exist in a vacuum, and there is no room for dictatorship in contemporary leadership. Cultivating a community requires the kind of leadership that encourages people to work for a shared vision and a shared goal.
9. If you don't lean in, you're heading out. We're listening more to those who have learned how to lean in, to take a more active role in leadership where they did not have a voice before. to be more assertive at work and not let biases keep them from pushing forward.
10. Set yourself apart by sharing what you know. In an information age, the person who shares the most information is seen as the expert in their field. If you are to lead you need to set yourself apart, and sharing information is a proven way to increase your sphere of influence.
You don't need a title to lead. Everyone can be a leader. Your capacity is no longer set by your position or title. The ability to create influence is a significant form of leadership, and it is available to all.
In another few years we may well have an entirely new picture of leadership. Meanwhile, the people who will lead in that era are coming up behind us. What we do now is how we change the world for the future.