The Five New Faces of Leadership

Posted on April 28, 2013 by Josh Linkner

In the context of seemingly endless challenges, many of us have paused to reassess what it really takes to win.  What attributes will we need to overcome the strong headwinds of this hyper-competitive business storm?

We certainly know that the models of the past won’t cut it. To seize our full potential  – in both public and private efforts – we must embrace the five new faces of leadership:

1. Sherpa – The leader of a mountain-climbing expedition’s sole purpose is to help others reach the summit.  Sherpa leadership isn’t about individual achievement – you are in your role to serve others – your team, your customers, and your community.  If your team knows you are there to help them succeed, they’ll give back far more than any rah-rah speech or management technique of the week.

2. Provocateur – Tip-toing around deeply entrenched viewpoints is less productive than trying to fry eggs on a hot sidewalk.  Your job is to challenge everything and be a poking-stick of change.  A healthy disdain for the status quo is the hallmark of leaders who shape history.  Don’t let fear glue you to conventional wisdom.

3. Futurist – Aiming your efforts at last year’s market data will yield a surefire miss.  You must clearly articulate your vision of what lies ahead, and ensure your organization is ready to seize it when that window opens. Imagine all the possibilities, and never allow the past or present to restrict your imagination.

4. Story-teller – Getting your message to stand out and be heard above the noise can by tougher than running a four-minute mile.  Make sure you’re crafting your story – to both internal and external audiences – in such a compelling way that it cannot be ignored.  You must communicate your purpose and a clear plan of how you’ll get there if you expect your team to leap forward with urgency and alignment.

5. Speed Demon – The world of getting things 100% right before hitting the market is long over.  Today, you must execute and problem solve with ferocious speed, making regular adjustments in real-time.  Complete business cycles can now last weeks instead of years.  You must build a culture that embraces speed in all aspects of business – from innovation to customer delivery to hiring to technological advances.  On the highway, speed kills.  In business, speed wins.

New challenges call for new approaches.  To really hit your stride, you’ll need to upgrade your game plan with a modern set of tools.

The surest path to obsolescence is hugging the status quo.  It’s time to relinquish the techniques of the past in favor of approaches better suited to the challenges of the day.  Good leaders may stay the course, but great leaders reinvent.

2 Responses to “The Five New Faces of Leadership

  1. Number 5. Speed Demon was an old boss of mine. One of my past jobs was to scan documents for an inventory company. The room was filled with documents from floor to ceiling, there was hardly enough room to walk or find the scanner. The boss could care less if someone in accounting could find a certain document. She wanted speed, and the scanner to be scanning non-stop from the time I get in the office to the time I leave. I explained to her that I too want the scanner to be scanning non-stop, but also that the documents being scanned can be found again and again within a two minute window. This project tanked because the boss did not back off and I got the scanner scanning thousands and thousands of documents whether or not you could find them was another matter. When the company was audited and a certain document that could not be found on the computer and the original one was what the auditor had in their hands, the company couldn’t understand with this new scanning department why this document was misplaced? Speed is good in business when you have a great retrieval system and know you can locate a needle in a haystack if you had to. Speed is hindered when someone has no patience and the company loses valuable time, trying to find a document that is lost. You want speed in your life, go to Cedar Point and hold on.

  2. Love it! Very contemporary and pragmatic. It would be great for an executive team to conduct an internal audit of themselves.. who is playing what role? And, what’s their level of performance?

    The gap assessment would be insightful.. and help them to understand how they need to engage as a team to deliver on the 5 aspects.

    Thanks for the insights..
    Jenny