Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.
This week’s article is written by Dan Mushalko, VP of Research & Media at the Innovative Leadership Institute. It is a companion piece to an interview with Dr. Nicole Ferry and Dr. Nathan Eva on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future, titled Non-Traditional Leadership Models for Our New Era, which premiered January 3rd, 2024. This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023.
Link to the entire interview:
Leader Development and the Need for New Leadership Models
The world has changed dramatically in the last few years. That’s a given. But too many of us don’t realize that effective leadership has changed dramatically, too.
While leadership development is crucial for organizational success, many programs fail to catalyze real change. They’re too often based on old concepts that focus on the individual rather than the reality of the workplace having multiple leaders who must work with each other and lead their own teams.
What you learned from that MBA program 20 or 10 (even 5!) years ago probably doesn’t apply anymore. So, what does a solid modern leadership development program contain? Look for:
No single leader possesses all the skills to manage crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues require more than one leader. We need groups of leaders who can lead collaboratively in different areas. Collective leadership facilitates cooperation – handing off the leadership baton between team members or working closely towards common goals. After all, leadership fundamentally involves relationships and interactions. An overemphasis on the individual misses crucial power dynamics in organizational spaces – and underdelivers on success.
Learning from Nontraditional Sources
Old-school top-down leadership no longer fits every circumstance. To paraphrase a wise saying, “The leadership style that got us to the problems isn’t the leadership that will solve them.” New and effective ways of leading can be found by looking at unexpected sources. Indigenous worldviews are just one example. First Nations cultures in Australia are the longest continual-running societies on the planet; what’s different about how they’ve been successfully led through literally thousands of years? One possible key is that they don’t rely on a single leader but focus on the group looking after one another – caring for people professionally and personally. To start, see what you can glean from your family heritage: Italian, West African, Okinawan – all have distinct ways of leading and doing business.
With multiple leaders and styles in any organization, it’s vital that everyone is aligned toward the same goals and overall mission. Communication from the very top is fundamental. Any leader who isn’t fully and openly sharing the company’s quarterly, annual, and long-term objectives automatically limits success.
Adapt to the New Worker
The post-COVID struggle of return-to-office versus work-from-home is one symptom of old-school bosses not recognizing that workers themselves have changed: their expectations, their priorities, their most productive work styles…all of these are vastly different now. That means effective motivation has changed, too. Maximizing your organization’s success depends greatly on how well you change to meet today’s workers.
Two core leadership qualities we develop in the Innovative Leadership Institute‘s programs are resiliency and the mind of a scientist (i.e., always learning and willing to experiment with new techniques). Those traits will amplify all of the points made above and help you continue your leadership development no matter what new changes the world throws your way!
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