Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger Jen McKenzie
The role of a leader is always evolving, so it makes sense that the traits of a modern-day leader may be different from the leaders of half a century ago.
Of course, some traits have remained pretty consistent throughout the years, such as being a role model and having strong communication skills.
The following are some of the leadership traits that are important now that might not have been in the past.
Perhaps one of the most drastic differences between modern-day leaders and leaders from the past is that today's leaders are interested in what employees want and need.
50 years ago, managers simply had to be charismatic enough to bark orders at their employees to get the job done.
The goal was always to satisfy the company's owner without paying too much attention to the employees. Leaders weren't too interested in complaints, concerns, and feedback from their employees. That kind of leader will not work with today's empowered workforce and may even be counterproductive.
Today's managers encourage employees to express their points of view and discuss or bring up tough issues.
Leaders in the past would not talk about mistakes, but today's managers are expected to highlight mistakes along with employees so that everyone can learn from them.
CEOs, managers, and any other type of leader of today cannot be the kind of person who sticks to what works but rather a person who can change at a moment's notice. The reason today's authority figures cannot stay stagnant deals with the nature of modern-day business.
The internet has been creating all sorts of changes that affect business almost at lightning speed. A new internet-based concept could cause a chain of events that could break a company that refuses to change with the times.
Take video streaming, which basically has defeated regular DVD rentals and is taking a serious bite out of the entire movie-making business. Leaders in the past were taught not to rock the boat too much because it could disrupt a well-oiled machine, but that kind of leadership could sink companies today.
Another thing that is unique about today's authority figures is their ability to be reflective. This sense of self-awareness is unique to modern-day leaders, and it helps them improve their leadership skills and work on weaknesses.
This skill also allows modern-day directors to hire employees that will actually complement them by looking for individuals that are strong where they are weak.
Leaders from the past were not too concerned about finding individuals who might help them become better because that kind of collaboration simply did not exist back them.
Generation X and Y employees are a different kind of workforce. These individuals know how important they are to companies and use that as leverage to get what they want.
This workforce does not mind jumping from job to job and a workforce that values experience more than pay.
A leader from the past might just alienate today's employees so much that it might be hard to fill certain positions.
This is the reason contemporary authority figures need to be able to keep employees happy by listening to them and finding ways to create a good corporate culture.
Company culture actually helps keep employees in their positions and helps employees feel more invested in their positions, which increase productivity.
One way modern leaders do this is by rewarding the entire team instead of individual efforts, which makes employees collaborate better rather than compete with each other.
Another trait that is quite important for modern overseers is the ability to connect with all sorts of workers. The new age workforce is filled with all sorts of people as the country continues to become more diverse.
Being sensitive to all the cultural differences is important in order to make individuals feel welcomed and to respect other people's customs. This is a trait that simply was not too important in the past.
Yesterday's authority figures barely communicated with their workforce; the only thing that was important was getting the job done.
Leaders back in the day could have been offensive, yet they might have still been valued by their employers. Well, new age authority figures definitely need to be more sensitive because failing to do so could not only alienate employees but could also put the company at risk of lawsuits.
Author info: Jen McKenzie is an independent business consultant from New York. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie
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