Leaders need these five qualities to stay relevant
In a work environment characterised by continuous change, the top-down hierarchy of companies of the 21st century has been reimagined by a new paradigm: collaboration.
There is now a need for new, adaptable leadership styles in which leaders move away from being a detached voice of authority and empower their employees with trust and autonomy.
Here are the five key qualities that future leaders need to succeed.
Today’s senior leaders are likely to have started out their careers in significantly different work environments than exist today. TV portrayals such as Office Space and The Office paint a picture of the old corporate culture of hierarchy and uninspiring workspaces, and a time in which competitive wage packages and promotions trumped quality of life and purpose.
The ranks of today’s workforce have been filled out by millennials; having changed significantly from the heyday of the baby-boomers, there is now a greater focus on doing good for the benefit of social and technological progress. Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer explored this desire for change and found that 76 per cent of employees believe that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for it to be imposed by the government.
As the values of their workforce change, so must the leaders - requiring receptivity to new points of view and negative feedback. To enable a highly driven and invested workforce, leaders must learn how to motivate their staff in more subtle ways than giving a pay-bump.
Since globalisation began, the speed at which change occurs in the world has continued to increase at an exponential rate. Whilst cartography and ship-building may have first bridged barriers created by oceans, social media and a 24-hour news cycle can now bridge the gap between any two individuals across the globe within seconds.
Given these advances, news and fake news can travel at alarming speed with devastating impact. This climate requires highly decisive leadership and the ability to make quick decisions in real-time. The most effective leaders will thrive in this new, chaotic world and react with agility.
From the perspective of the workforce, it’s also imperative for leaders to be actively engaged beyond the direct agendas of their own business, as 71 per cent of employees agree that it’s critical for CEOs to respond to industry, political, and national crisis events in challenging times (Edelman 2019 Trust Barometer).
Discover the skills and connections to grow into a future leader
As communication has sped up, so too has the broader pace of innovation. This now means that, rather than being an infrequent occurrence, disruption has become the new normal. To remain competitive and weather this volatile environment, leaders must develop a culture that fights to maintain progress through innovation, resilience, creativity, and critical thinking.
Scott Farquar, the Australian CEO and Co-Founder of Atlassian Corporation - now estimated to be worth US$1Billion - adopted this approach when building his company. From the days as a start-up in his university share-house, he endured many bumps on his path to success through delayed product launches, products failing after hitting the market and most notably, a failed bid to develop Redfern’s Australian Technology Park.
By enduring these trials, Farquar learnt the value of resilience and the importance of this in workplace culture, making the persistent effort to utilise the full potential of his team, and using this to create a competitive advantage.
Living an ‘always on’ life through social media has become a convention that has created a universal desire for greater transparency in other areas of life. This now translates to work and has created an expectation for leaders to demonstrate transparency through frequent and authentic communication.
For leaders, consistent communication and listening to your workforce signals to your staff that they play a role in the decision-making process. Being open about how your organisation is performing also allows you to take your staff along on the journey, rather than limiting this insight to the leadership team. The effect of this is that your staff feel more invested, accountable, and loyal, which ultimately results in greater productivity.
Authoritarian leaders in today’s workplace often fail to inspire, as employees who see themselves as future leaders become alienated when dictated to and those with less ambition become subdued into passive compliance. The end result is the alienation and demoralisation of the workforce and, according to 2019 G2 Crowd Employee Engagement report, the behaviour of managers can significantly impact employee retention, with 11 per cent citing the behaviour of their manager as a key reason for resigning.
An alternative democratic style of management has proven highly successful as it reduces the layers of management that staff must navigate in order to do their jobs – enabling greater collaboration and horizontal development.
Future leaders will have to earn their position in this flatter team structure in which titles alone aren’t enough to create influence. The best of these leaders will earn the trust and respect of their team through continually demonstrating, in a highly transparent environment, that they are the most capable person to run the organisation.
UTS postgraduate courses provide students with the skills and connections to grow into future leaders.
Learn about our postgraduate options and find the right course for you.