Shifts of Power. Leadership then and now.

For those of us who remember a technology-free childhood without the stress of being liked on Instagram or unfriended on Facebook, we likely remember a workforce where leaders were a much different breed than they are today.

Starting out in my career, I recall the expectation of “leadership” excellence was different than it is today:

  • Information was power. Leaders were expected to have all the answers. Companies were not yet “ecosystems” where knowledge flows in and out. They were mostly insular and closed.

  • Leaders drew power from their exclusive access to data. They seemed to be the only ones “in the know”.  Data was not yet in the cloud, networked or accessible to all.

  • Leaders had to appear in control, sure of the direction and confident in their 10-year strategic plans.

  • Mistakes were not easily tolerated, definitely not encouraged nor something you should readily admit to.

Fast Forward a short 10 years and the world is:

  • Social and people based. Consumers have more information and more control than ever.

  • Networked. Our power is in our connections and our ability to create value through those connections.

  • Supportive vs. transactional.  We have shifted from a revenue first, sales first, approach to a value of exchange. The future is constantly changing and leading from a profit-first mindset no longer works. Businesses and leaders are increasingly purpose driven.

  • Democratic  vs. authoritative. Ideas and sources of information are everywhere and open. Successful operating models are no longer top down but driven by ecosystem of partners, horizontal and democratic.

Successful  organizations are mirroring these attributes not only in their business models but in their leadership styles, in the processes they’ve adopted and how they do business.

Leaders of today must now collaborate (inside and outside the organization), innovate and iterate (often),  create and co-create (with competitors, vendors and customers). These are the skills and the mindset required to survive and thrive in a complex and rapidly changing environment. It is those brave enough to challenge the status quo that will truly transform our industries.