The Future of Leadership

This arcticle has been graciously donated by
Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.

  • Our primary image of the leader comes from the military.
  • Great leaders have always been heroes, especially military heroes.
  • Hero worship is OK if it inspires us to greater heights.
  • But bad if it disempowers us, making us dependent on heroes.
  • Military heroes know where to go and how to get there so can lead from the front.
  • Organizations today need everyone thinking about new directions to pursue.
  • No one person can now lead from the front without a crystal ball!!
  • Future leadership depends on complex knowledge and innovation from all.
  • 21st century leadership is not dependent on position. Leadership now means promoting a better way. This is an ACT not a role. Front line employees can show leadership without even being seen as informal leaders in the sense of taking charge informally of the group.

The role of innovation

  • Innovators lead by showing us where our industry is likely to go next.
  • The implication is that your leaders do NOT need to be inside your organization!
  • We already speak of “market leaders” — so leadership can come from anywhere.
  • Leadership is too often confused with the question of how people in positions of
    AUTHORITY influence employees to pull in the same direction.
  • Why is it then that entrepreneurs do not need (internal) leaders? They look to industry leaders for inspiration and role models to beat.
  • Such leadership is about innovation – not using influence skills to motivate employees.
  • Why develop leaders to be nice instead of fostering real leadership through innovation?
  • Some leaders have good people skills, others are too self-absorbed, too focused on their own ideas or on beating competitors.
  • Who would follow such leaders? Opportunists who know a good thing when they see it, who are ready to jump on a bandwagon with little or no persuasion. People who are likely to be leaders themselves in other words.
  • As knowledge workers become empowered enough to think like entrepreneurs they will look outside for leadership if you can’t provide it. But does it matter?