Leadership development: The Changing Nature of Leadership

June 24, 2015 by Wally Bock

Art Petty asks: “Is leadership changing?” after reading the McKinsey interview with Heidrick & Struggles CEO Tracy Wolstencroft, Art concludes:

“for those firms I’ve observed and have worked with, who are effectively reinventing themselves in this era of complexity, there are a number of emerging new themes in how leadership is practiced and deployed.”

If that’s true, what does it mean for leadership development?

Leadership development faces twin challenges

Peter Drucker reminded us that the future is going to be different. We don’t know quite how, but we have to help the leaders of the future prepare for it.

William Gibson reminded us that “the future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” In other words the life of a leader is about the future, but it’s also about today. If leaders don’t do their job well today, there’s no organizational future, period.

The world is changing and the things that worked yesterday are not a sure guide to success today, let alone tomorrow. So some things about leadership are, indeed, changing.

Some things about leadership are changing

Leadership is changing because the world is changing. Changes in technology and society mandate changes in the way we lead and the way we develop leaders for today. The environment changes. The tools change. And leaders must adapt. Leadership must change.

But, some things about leadership will never change

People haven’t changed. When you read the interview with Tracy Wolstencroft you’ll find things about “the importance of authenticity” and about “building relationships.” The people parts of leadership haven’t changed at all.

Leadership development is about both

Leadership development programs have to meet all the challenges. We have to develop leaders who will succeed today and tomorrow. We have to help them acquire the tools to adapt to the changes in the environment while they hang on to the eternal truths of great leadership.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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