It is not new. Leadership has been analyzed throughout centuries from different approaches and its practical use taken into consideration and questioned as well.
Fathers of western philosophy, like Plato in “The Republic” and Plutarch in “Lives”, asked themselves about the qualities that determined leadership capability.
Within social science, Max Weber as the pioneer of modern sociology established the three pure categories of leadership. He outlined the differences among the charismatic leader (able to gather followers through emotions), the traditional (given to her/him for just being a member of the elites) and the legitimate one (born from legality and established rules).
After other different visions and intellectual efforts to understand and to come up with the characteristics that shape the leader and distinguish her/him among the others, also with the influence of Confucius who believed that a leader was someone wise and good, a disruptive moment emerges in the middle of the 20th century.
Thus, situational leadership became stronger. Leaders good in a situation might not perform as well as in a complete different situation. Situation became the key and leadership had to count on context from that moment. This assumes that in different circumstances some qualities are more granted than others.
But then again, the reality of the 21st century makes us realize that context is extremely complex, due to its changes and to the speed required to adapt to new situations. Also, for not leaving behind any of the characteristics that shape us as human beings and because human beings need to take advantage and use the assets inherited from the history of universal knowledge.
Some of this abilities are not considered new and others have just evolved from old characteristics. Nevertheless, their combination and the capability to use all of them as a powerful tool to improve society, any organization or enterprise has become the key.
Therefore, the seven characteristics new leaders must have are:
- Head. Rationality enables leaders to rely on the essential information available to make decisions. In order to analyze context properly, risk reduction becomes an asset with the help of technology and knowledge.
- Heart. A brave leader needs to take into consideration emotional matters, as well as the rational ones, in order to perform efficiently within an organization. And the leader needs to be involved in such a way in order to develop and keep talented people. Crew members need to feel confident about themselves in order to grow and need to feel that their skills are valued with an individual bonus scheme. This is extremely important to boost creative processes.
- Rigour. Leading an organization means assuming different sets of tasks and duties, internal as well as external. Neither frivolity nor superficiality nor implementing solid measures should be allowed. Capability to maintain executive rigour, even in complex or critical situations that can lead towards abrupt actions, is presented as an essential asset.
- Passion. A leader must be capable of conducting an organization or an enterprise through a road book to reach goals. There is nothing more powerful than someone with an idea, with enough stamina and determination to defeat and overcome obstacles and any thoughts about surrender. Passion must be the fuel to reach any goal, no matter how heavy difficulties must be. Passion must become the engine of transformation.
- Courage. World would be in the hands of a courageous few. Lots are called to generate ideas, but only a few have the strength and the capability to assume risks and to live with it. Future leaders will be those for whom determination is more relevant than fear.
- Polivalence. Leaders will not be specialists or at least they will not become leaders due to such a condition. A holistic vision is needed, due to a new set of rules in an interconnected world. This complexity grows and gives a new definition for leaders. They need to be multi-task and able to learn continuously.
- Benefit. Counting on people oriented towards goals, with social and economic beneffits and bonuses, is essential for the survival of organizations. The leader of the 21st century must be in charge of overcoming present contingencies and reaching the future. Like this, reaching goals constantly means also keeping alive any business. Therefore, the capability to hand benefits to all stakeholders will give an idea about the strength and the quality of our present leaders.