Great leaders need the right skillset, we’re told. But modern leadership is about knowing how to inspire the skills of your staff, says Bryan Adams
What constitutes good leadership? It’s a debate for the ages, from the campaigns of Alexander the Great to the triumphs of modern visionaries such as Steve Jobs.
Recent talk has focused on the relevance of a specific skillset – identifiable work-related skills that can be summed up succinctly on a sheet of A4.
Can you think of someone in the business world who oozes confidence, or someone who talks with the audacity and bravado of a great statesman?
These personality traits cannot be confined to a piece of paper; rather they jump off it and exist in that nebulous space we call a person’s ‘presence’.
The skillset is old news
Confining the ability of business leaders to solely work-based skills flies in the face of what we have come to acknowledge as successful leadership in the 21st century.
This restriction is archaic and outdated, especially in a digital age in which leaders can and should aim to become brands in their own right.
Barclays’ sacking of CEO Antony Jenkins is a case in point; the rationale behind the decision was that he no longer possessed the correct skillset for the job, but that was an outdated, political excuse.
Defining a modern leader
The modern business leader must be in possession of a range of talents and abilities, but how can these be quantified?
Being a great leader is like being a great racing driver: it obviously helps to have innate ability, but the best become successful by improving with experience.
Leaders need a desire and hunger to win; they must be open to using anything and everything in their power to generate the marginal gains that will take them across the finish line first.
Behind every great leader lies a strong supporting cast. Two aspects are crucial; leaders need great technology and a strong team that they can empower and trust implicitly. True leaders master the art of harnessing these together.
Gen Y expects a leader to delegate responsibility, work collaboratively and be open to change. This means embracing roles and leveraging technology to create a consummate work environment.
A generation of inspiration
Gen Y has blazed a path of change, with leaders seeking to inspire and motivate in innovative ways. It’s become increasingly difficult to achieve this, especially when the expectations, opportunities, risks, accountability and transparency of business are greater than ever before.
Top talent attracts top talent. The modern-day workforce’s expectations of a leader go beyond a generic skillset. Leaders need to be spontaneous and open to change; nothing is more damning than a closed mind.
The sheer weight of a leader’s character and presence can motivate others to join a company, especially when they actively cultivate an engaging and exciting purpose. Great leaders always ask: why do I do what I do?
The current state of affairs is radically different from the past. There is an army of millennials out there with a completely different view of the world.
If today’s business leaders don’t begin to structure a work environment that not only accommodates, but gets the best out of individuals, then millennials won’t simply refuse to work for leaders – they will put them out of business.