Why is Leadership Important Now?

The Center for Leadership Council (CLC) is an independent institution that provides leadership-related intelligence to its member organizations. Primarily, the CLC engages in “fact-based case study research” on a global scale in an effort to establish what most interested parties would agree is the cutting-edge of leadership particulars.

“Only 18% of global leaders today are achieving both their short-term performance objectives and effectively building the foundation for long-term growth.”

Across industries and around the world, less than one leader in five is figuring out a way to achieve their goals and strengthen their foundation.

It is far easier to read a statistic or two and exclaim, “Wow!” than it is to replace one of the leaders under review and turn those statistics around. The fact of the matter is that effectively influencing people in this day and age is difficult. And, with all due respect to those that have blazed the trail, there is simply no comparing the dynamics of leadership today with the dynamics of leadership in times gone by.

Historical Leaders vs Leaders of Today

In an effort to provide glaring historical contrast, consider the objectives and corresponding variables faced by the following two executive-level leaders:

  • Julius Caesar: (He was one of the greatest military powers, a brilliant politician and one of the ancient world’s strongest leaders. His reign led to the rise of the Roman Empire.)
    • Your mission? World domination
    • The diversity of your workforce? Zero (young male Roman citizen-soldiers speaking one language)
    • Means of communication between units? One (human messenger)
    • Time it takes for messenger communication to travel from Rome to Alexandria? Two hours by chariot, then six days by sea
    • Change? Tell a general or two what you have in mind and probably never think (or hear) about it again
  • Marissa Mayer: (President and CEO of Yahoo. She is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.)
    • Your mission? Facilitate delivery of Yahoo’s comprehensive branded network of services to over 345 million individuals worldwide each month
    • Diversity of your workforce? Fifteen thousand men and women spanning five generations working in 47 different offices in 25 countries
    • Means of communication between work units? You name it; face-to-face meetings, webcasts, teleconferences, cell phone, email, instant messages, texts and tweets
    • Time it takes for an IM to travel from one end of the world to the other? An instant
    • Change? Tell key staff what you want and alert the public relations department for an onslaught of media-driven second-guessing that will drive the news cycle for 10-15 days (at a minimum)

Let’s leave the realm of the global leader. Mentally work your way down the chain of command at Yahoo for a minute. Think about the people we can identify with, but in all likelihood, we’ll never hear about, let alone meet. One question: What do you think it’s been like to be a director, manager, or supervisor at Yahoo the last few weeks?  Reflect upon the challenges these leaders undoubtedly face on three levels:

  • Short-term productivity: In spite of all the hoopla, it is doubtful that performance targets have been reduced in any way, shape or form
  • Morale: Pajamas and a 14-step commute to a home office have now been replaced by casual business attire and rush-hour traffic
  • Retention: Consider the possibility that several Yahoo employee resumes are currently working their way through cyberspace

Why Is Leadership Important Today?

Without leadership, Yahoo or any other organization has no chance of success. In the absence of leadership at the team, department and divisional levels there are predictable consequences to the challenges under consideration.

What Happens Without Leadership?

Turnover Will Increase

Strong talent will opt to work someplace else without giving the new course of action a fighting chance

Engagement Will Decrease

Employees that aren’t as marketable realistically can’t quit and leave, so conversely, they will opt to “quit and stay

Productivity Will Decline

When the energy of any system is focused on who is leaving and everything that is wrong, it stands to reason that output will suffer.

Can leaders really turn these kinds of situations around? You know on the basis of your own experience that they can, and that they do!

Results from a recent survey conducted by the Learning and Development Roundtable documented that employees reporting to managers that were deemed to be “effective leaders” were 25% more productive, 52% more engaged and 40% less likely to take a job with another company than employees reporting to managers deemed to be “ineffective leaders.”

While nobody will ever be satisfied with an 18% success rate delivering on short-term goals and preparing for long-term stability, maybe those metrics speak volumes on just how difficult effective leadership has become. Leaders must be agents of change who deliver results, engage employees and retain key talent.

Qualities Of A Good Leader Today

While there can be several qualities of good leaders, here are three qualities which seem to be consistent across all great leaders:

  • Expand their reach
  • Double down on their investments
  • Relentlessly develop their awareness

Based on history, it seems we can always expect these qualities to play a role. However, as time goes on, these qualities will evolve. Developing these qualities will likely require stepping out of your comfort zone.

Additionally, leaders must be able to adapt and blend different qualities together. For example, leaders must be able to strike a balance between being flexible and consistent.

Common Leadership Styles

No leader is the same, with each having their own personal brand of leadership. However, there are a few common leadership styles.

It should be noted that contrary to popular belief, cheerleading is not a coaching style. Additionally, please note that these are only a few of the leadership styles out there.

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