Leadership Re-defined

by Elaine on August 22, 2012

To the upcoming generation, leadership is the quality of how you lead yourself within an ocean of options and choices to be made and it is how you help others to lead themselves effectively. Ralph, 25, working within a PhD programme at a Dutch University comments:

Leadership is situational. It is determined by context so there is no specific norm. It is about making decisions that help a group to move to the next phase, to move on. …The nature of my work is individualistic. So, I pay a lot of attention to the need of everyone in the group having their say. I’m very aware of the risk of one or a few people dominating conversations, which can be ineffective. Leading is making more of all talents, interests and views without judgement.

According to our interviewees, leadership is redefined in a context where social order and role are not so predetermined. It is within such a less-fixed environment that leadership is taken to mean the ability to facilitate a productive kind of trust, as well as having the wherewithal to endorse inclusion and collaboration. We return to Anna, 24, who is working in law:

Leadership is about how you steer a group of people. How you do that differentiates a good leader from a not so good one. Hierarchical structures aren’t sustainable as they merely represent formal authority. Leadership is natural authority, not forced but willingly adhered to because it creates more and more freedom and transparency, a sort of modern Leviathan leadership where it’s accepted that everyone is sovereign……., which is the case anyway.

The key to successful next generation leadership, our interviewees report, is confidently knowing who you are and knowing how you relate to people in any given situation. Such confidence does not denote traditional notions of being self-assured or self-confident, but rather confidence in the system and the process. They can lead with confidence that instantaneous and sufficient information will be provided through a web of channels, and at the right time. Leadership in this context is seen as the ability to listen and tune in to what is playing at any given moment in time.

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