Our understanding of Leadership has actually changed little since people first began to examine it. We’ve always understood that leadership is that quality which enables one person to motivate another to give their discretionary effort.
Is there anything special about leadership in the 21st century? Well ….. leadership hasn’t changed but two things have – context and application. And they are interrelated.
We live in more than interesting times. Change of all types is happening all around us and is accelerating exponentially.
The people we educate and who now are being prepared for life and for work have also magically evolved into people with quite different skills, beliefs and expectations to previous generations. And generally they are better educated with all the implications that this carries.
We can also quickly list the main forms of change that impact on all of us: globalisation; a genuine acceptance of diversity; an understanding of our true place in the world order – particularly economically, etc.
There are now something like 50 apparently different models of leadership that are applied in organisations of all types all over the world. The majority are presently focused, as we will see, on Behaviour. This is not unreasonable. One observation here is that most, the vast majority, of these theories and models are actually variations on a theme. They are rooted in the same core ideas. As more spill onto the market there is real interest in understanding this.
Additionally there are two (perhaps more) factors that are now significant in pushing and pulling our understanding of leadership
– Leadership Development which only addresses behaviour can have limited impact. There is a need to understand and develop the mindset of individuals – how they think – in order to develop intelligent leadership practice.
– Leadership behaviour and development applies to everyone – not just those who have the word manager or leader in their job title. We can all make a difference to the motivation of those with whom we interact.
Our full article provides a whistle stop tour through the history of leadership theory development which hopefully traces how and why we have got to where we are.
By Doug Strycharczyk, CEO- AQR
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Catch up with other articles in our leadership series:
AQR is a leading edge publisher of psychometric measures, we also work through partner organisations. For more information please visit www.aqr.co.uk