Author: Steven Paul
The new-age leaders are all about change management, committed to learning, being collaborative and keen on technology. They are more involved in the community and giving back to the society. They have a “can-do” attitude and strive to achieve their targets by all ethical means.
These are the fundamental characteristics that define a new-age leader.
Senior Leaders Have a Portfolio of Roles
Today’s leaders consistently need to learn and relearn new things. At the pace at which our world is changing, leaders cannot remain in their traditional roles but need to be the forerunners of an adaptive culture.
Leaders often have to take on the role of a manager and have to define the framework of how to accomplish goals. They have to play the role of a mentor and help employees understand how their contributions will support these goals and hold the team accountable for accomplishing them.
Leaders, particularly those who have technical backgrounds, also play the role of a subject matter expert. Even though they have the expertise and experience to become a leader, they cannot remain stagnant and have to come out of their comfort zone to not just learn new skills but teach them to others as well.
New-age leaders also act as mediators and coaches. They are instrumental in resolving conflicts as well as focusing on the growth of each individual by trying to understand their goals for career advancement.
A new-age leader also acts as a harbinger of change. Organizations, and indeed, the environment in which they work are continuously changing, creating a need for a leader who is resilient and flexible and can rise to the challenges of the hour. Leading a team through structural changes after a merger or acquisition, adjusting to new customer needs, and adopting new technology requires excellent communication skills delivered with passion.
In this context, leaders need to step into their employee’s shoes, see things from their perspective, and help communicate why the change was necessary.
New-Age Leaders Work Full Time or Fractional
The way we worked today is quite different from how our parents worked. We hardly ever hear of anyone retiring after 40 years working at the same company. Those times are gone now.
Today’s professionals are adjusting the way they work in marketing. They are no longer waiting for companies to terminate their single full-time employment. Instead, they are seeking more financial control and independence by engaging in multiple sources of income.
One single steady job is no longer sufficient in most fields. Fractional work is fast growing, either as a supplement to a more traditional job or as a foundation to create a new work/life style. Increasingly, executives are now moving towards a portfolio-centered career approach that allows them to leverage their core skills to get multiple streams of income.
Many leaders are now working as fractional C-level executives, working for multiple companies multiple times a week. They also make a part of one board or multiple boards of SMEs or startups, public companies, or not-for-profits. Many of them work as performance coaches for many clients as well.
This approach is more empowering, particularly for executives who are over 50 and who need to escape the net of the “in and out” syndrome. They need to become independent of one employer and be able to work even after they are the 80s. The increased mental stimulation and physical activity this type of work style provides is evident in many of today’s moguls who are working well into their ‘90s.
New-Age Leaders are Intrapreneurs with Global Experience
As an entrepreneur, when you turn creative new ideas into actual innovations, this is known as intrapreneurship. In short, it means being an innovative entrepreneur within an ecosystem of a large, traditional organization.
Intrepreneurial leaders have been seen to boost employee engagement and productivity and even a short redesign can make your work more purposeful. This is very true if you are motivated by rewards. In fact, people who are highly cautious and avoid calculated risks may not fare well if they are required to perform in an intrapreneurial role.
So what kind of diverse roles behaviors are expected from intrapreneurs?
An intrapreneur is passionate about taking up dormant projects and reactivating them with their sales skills and influence, and turning themselves into agents of change.
Intrapreneuers are also proactive and do not wait for things to happen. They take a preemptive approach, which increases their capacity to get things done quicker than their peers. They operate under a combination of passion, fearlessness, inclusivity, and humility and are devoted to change.
Another key characteristic of intrapreneurs is that they engage in pro-social behavior. They like to forge connections with people they work with, which gives them a higher sense of purpose at work and enjoy feeling a sense of camaraderie.
New-Age Leaders Work in Different Settings/ Situations
New-age leaders have a versatile array of experiences outside of their office, which gives them several benefits. It helps them review their management style when it comes to exchanging experiencing or changing the work environment. They strive to create a culture where people can learn and practice new skills, which can help them improve their work processes.
They understand that adaptability is an important requirement and they equip themselves through experience in various settings and situations and access a range of behaviors that allow them to shift and experiment as change occurs.
For leaders, adapting to changing external pressures, adjusting their management styles to cope with different situations, accepting change as something inevitable but positive, a willingness to revise plans, and consider the concerns of the people during change, are all things that make them resilient and allow them to succeed in a changing environment.
New-Age Leaders Focus on Small & Medium Enterprises
Small and medium enterprises are constantly struggling, growing, and tackling employee engagement and retention problems but they also have a sense of purpose, overarching goals operating under specific principles, and a capacity to innovate that new-age leaders can leverage.
SME leaders need to plan bigger goals for the organization but they need to be effective bosses as well in order to ensure accountability and consistency. Wearing both the hats of a leader and a boss requires a balancing act, but if the balance is struck, it can be used to enforce work values.
As a leader of an SME, you will need to think several steps ahead and ensure that the organization remains resilient, agile, sustainable, and relevant. They ensure that all their employees participate in the decision-making process and that they remain engaged and driven by fostering mutual trust and appreciating hard work.
Lastly, to be a leader in an SME, one needs to have a flexible and adaptable approach to work processes that align with the organization’s overarching goals and result in the growth of the employees and the business. A leader must know the right way and the right time to exercise change and stop processes that are meant to achieve results.
These leaders are always conscious that their efforts are intended to help them and their organizations grow in knowledge, skills, and experience.
New-Age Leaders are Performing Board Roles in Parallel
As we mentioned before, more and more new-age leaders are engaged in fractional work as part of a board or multiple boards of an SME, start-up, not-for-profit, and public company.
There are many organizations, particularly non-profits that need business leaders for their knowledge, skills, and competence. In addition, leaders also play a highly effective role when it comes to getting contacts, raising funds, and for representing the board appropriately.
Industries Rife With New-Age Leaders
Technology: As the world changes with a rapid pace, technology is taking over the world. Today, the most innovative young leaders are found in the technology industry since its scope is limitless and the technology is constantly evolving.
Sales and Marketing: The sales and marketing industry is also experiencing a revolution as young leaders step in and change age-old marketing methods by focusing more on customer experience.
Human Resources: In addition, more and more young people are taking leadership roles in human resources as organizations increasingly focus on employee engagement, satisfaction and retention and include them in all decision makings, from day-to-day tasks to executive-level strategies.
Software Developer: From consumer-oriented mobile apps to enterprise software solutions and beyond, software developers are continuously going beyond the limits of innovation and imagination to find solutions for all consumers. Young leaders in software development are consistently transforming the scope of the industry and coming up with never-before-seen inventions that are shaping the face of the world.
Health Care: There is a need for effective leadership in the dynamic and challenging healthcare environment. The young leaders in the industry are taking fresh approaches and utilizing innovative new resources to create long-term solutions to address key global issues like rising costs of health care, aging population, long waiting lists, and more.
Today, the need for a new-age leader is not an option, but it is fast becoming a necessity for any organization that hopes to succeed in the fast-changing digital era, where the only thing certain is uncertainty. Leadership needs to experience a transformative change and adapt to the changing times in order to grow and thrive.