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Managing and leading in the 21st century

Pre-COVID only 5-8% of workers worked consistently from home. This figure has grown to 55% as workers are exercising “choice” of how they prefer to work most effectively. Leadership has demonstrated a paradigm shift.  Leaders and managers need to rapidly increase their capabilities and confidence to ensure there is clarity of purpose and priority and to motivate individuals to work collaboratively to deliver a shared goal. Communicating candidly and clearly will be pivotal.  This article by Colin Murray explores these changes.

“Necessity is the mother of invention” (Plato). Never has this proverb been more apt than during the first 20 years of the 21st century, with the impact of two traumatic events such as the financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID 2020 pandemic providing us with fertile ground for needing to be creative with how we problem solve, manage and lead.

What has changed in 21st Century Leadership?

Authentic Leadership

Until the financial crisis of 2008, most leadership styles focused strongly on the bottom line, with the “ends justifying the means” resulting in transaction based leadership. The lack of integrity in this style created the birth of “Authentic Leadership” by Bill George, Head of Harvard Leadership – focusing on the impact our behaviour and values have on performance and placing the person, humility, and trust above profit.  

Psychological Safety

Pioneering neuro-science research over the past 20 years has seen Harvard professor Amy Edmondson introduce “Psychological Safety” into the leadership and team arena. The core premise is that individuals are more engaged, productive, and innovative when faced with problems when they feel safe to take personal risks and can speak openly. Google’s Aristotle project confirmed that psychological safety is the biggest factor in team performance.

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity times (VUCA)

21st century events have ensured that the days of managing and leading organisations with certainty and predictability have gone. Teams are seldom seated in the same building as the leader and challenges are demanding candid communication, greater empowerment, and greater collaboration to deliver high performance. Change and volatility are now the only constants.  

21st century management and leadership

What do all these changes in environment, culture and individual needs have on management and leadership?

Agility

Most leaders adopt a single style of leadership, and under pressure will overuse the same skills causing a reduction in personal and team productivity. Leaders now need to be agile – pausing to analyse the needs of the situation and individuals then selecting the optimum style of leadership to provide the conditions for teams to perform at their natural best.  Adopting one additional style of leadership can increase team productivity by four-fold (Hays group) 

Managing virtual teams

Pre-COVID only 5-8% of workers worked consistently from home. This figure has grown to 55% as workers are exercising “choice” of how they prefer to work most effectively. Managers need to rapidly increase their capabilities and confidence to ensure there is clarity of purpose and priority and to motivate individuals to work collaboratively to deliver a shared goal. Communicating candidly and clearly will be pivotal.  

Colin is currently running a number of online workshops including:

The stress-resistant manager: Building your resilience: part one – 16 July, part two – 23 July
Effective communication: how to deliver your message with clarity and impact – 12 August 2020
Managing high performing virtual teams – 13 August, 20 August and 26 August 2020