WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS
Sanjeewaka Kulathunga notes that today’s leadership styles aren’t titular but systemic
Since ancient times, the topic of leadership has been debated – and this will continue to be the case in the future as well. Yet, there is no clear-cut definition to express the authentic meaning of the term ‘leadership’ since it’s qualitative in nature.
The dimensions of leadership have certainly changed from one era to another.
In reference to ancient primitive societies, physically strong people became leaders of their tribal groups.
However, in the information age, the parameters of leadership have been based on a matrix of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and norms that enable organisational members to lead and take ownership of their responsibilities.
Furthermore, personalised leadership titles will no longer be validated in the forthcoming conceptual age.
If contemporary leaders in a knowledge based economy are not adequately supported to build a system where the ideas of knowledge workers are motivated and respected, they would be further invalidated. And searching for outward leaders would become a tedious process.
In contrast, creating a system by which employees are intrinsically motivated to lead and commit to organisational sustainability will be more effective compared to following an individual leader.
Following the traits of a person who holds a leadership title in an organisation alone doesn’t guarantee a leadership position even under a succession plan.
This is because the personal traits of leaders are unique to each individual. If a business could create a succession plan based on systematic leadership, it will be able to sustain a competitive edge.
In a knowledge based economy, the striking difference between leaders and followers has been extinguished – and therefore, the ancient form of leadership relationship between master and slave is no longer valid. The next phase of leadership will revolve around a system rather than personal leadership titles.
Going forward, corporate leadership will be transformed into a system that creates change agents and facilitates team members whenever they’re confronted with challenges.
The primary focus of leadership development is to install a system of leadership values in employees to take up any challenge on the way to a specific goal or corporate contingency.
Such leadership should be able to facilitate the execution of organisational strategies through team alignment and winning mind share. Authentic leadership cannot be limited to positional authority – rather, it’s about winning the hearts and minds of team members through an inspirational system of values and norms.
Inevitably, most businesses around the world have acknowledged that building systematic leadership would enable their employees’ performance to be more flexible in the future while also helping to creating a non-replicable source of competitive advantage.
An inspired system of leadership values is one of the key pillars to transform a workplace into a ‘worth place.’ Furthermore, leadership can be identified as an inspired and engaged system around which all team members are mutually bound to perform effectively for a higher cause.
Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft and Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway are a few examples of inspired corporate leaders.
We commonly focus on their personal traits and how these have inspired organisational teams. Unfortunately, as men and women who are interested in leadership, we tend to emulate these personal traits instead of analysing the leadership system that they have implemented to achieve corporate goals.
Historically, inspired leaders across the globe have emerged from various circumstances. Their contributions should be respected and commemorated in the future too.
But what’s most important is to analyse the distinctive system of leadership that was successfully initiated by such leaders. For example, Jobs was involved in every detail of new products launched in the market. In contrast, Jeff Bezos has given his Amazon team the freedom to create and launch a range of products or services without his direct involvement in every minute detail.
Individually, these are two approaches executed by two corporate leaders based on their personal orientation in relation to organisational goals. Merely following the personal traits of physically visible corporate leaders is not the way to savvy leadership. Rather, one has to focus on the system of how organisational employees are engaged to achieve corporate performance.
In the futuristic conceptual age, stakeholders of businesses are more likely to rely on a system rather than personalised leadership titles.
Among the most successful companies in the world, the leadership systems are unique to their organisational requirements and environments, over and above the personal traits of leaders.