3 Traits of the ‘New Leader’: Do you have them?

man thinkingAre you a Leader?

If you say yes, then what kind are you and how do you make a difference? If you say no, then why don’t you believe in your own leadership and how can you become one? The most popular question I hear from my audiences is “Are Leaders born or made?” Much of the debate goes back and forth until someone yells “Both!” But even this is not enough. What I say is that

You all were born to be made into a Leader. You just have to want it!

I was thinking about Leadership this summer as I dealt with balancing my work, family and several vacations. Yes, several! I had to leave my business in the hands of my team for the first time since I launched in 2007. As a hands on, people oriented guy, I can tell you this created internal conflict in my heart. Physically I was not able to be there, but I had people I trusted to be there.

3 Traits of the New Leader

We went to a cottage this summer. Things were so busy when I left, I had to put considerable effort into balancing the things that are important to me right now – my kids, my business, my connections and my well-being. Since reaching capacity in my business and life, along with these vacations, I took time to reflect on how things have changed for me and many of you out there. First let’s talk about the ‘Old Leader’. When I worked in the corporate world, there were certain characteristics that were either exemplified or lauded in leaders. They included

Communicator – you had to sell, persuade and influence
Decision-Maker – you got paid big bucks to make the call when others would not
Drive/Ambition – you lead by being the biggest go-getter on the team. Some call this passion.

These qualities are still a big part of leadership, but now they are a cost of entry. Every day you have to make decisions, communicate and make an effort for the things you want both professionally and personally. There has, however, been a paradigm shift of leadership and a NEW type of Leader has emerged, mostly from the group of GenX/GenY influence. To be fair, there are many people from other generations who have also embraced the quality of the New Leader. But let’s dive deeper into this.

What are the top 3 qualities of the ‘New Leader’?

Just like the The 4-hour Workweek, the New Leader focuses time on what matters most in the moment. It’s about prioritizing what needs to be done, where to spend your time optimally and getting rid of everything that doesn’t need you. This applies to the principle of the 80-20 rules, where just focusing on and churning out the 20 that drives the 80. Focus allows you get things done timely, efficiently and with breakneck speed. When I put the kids to bed, I am focused on getting all the things that need to be done by me, while getting my son Nyal to put on his own jammies (see photo). When I meet with all my interns, I make sure we stay on track (I can get sidetracked by humour and stories) get to what the action plan or next step is. When I am brainstorming new ideas, my focus is there and I put it away when executing a project. Some really incredible up and coming leaders, like the young 21 year old Brian Wong from Kiip, astound Silicon Valley with his focus.

The old leader managed people or inspired people, which is still important. But the New Leader takes it further by investing in people, including themselves. Not only do you need to know who you are, what drives you, what values you champion and what your personal brand is, but you also should know the same of those you collaborate and work with. Certain leaders, like Lolly Daskal, have done a remarkable job of embracing the Heart-based Leader concept, which I firmly believe in. One of my roles in everything I do is to instill and support leadership in all people. By investing in people to make them the best leader they can be, I help to drive forward myself, my organization and my society.

The Old Leader prioritized the business or the organization to become a Rock Star CEO. The New Leader is about becoming a Rock Star global citizen. The leaders we admire and seek to be strive for balance in all aspects of life – most notably Work, Family, Life experience and Social conscience. We admire those who look at the world and act with a more holistic and grander view. When I think of who inspires me, it’s now those people who have found this balance. Michael J. Fox once said

“Always be available to your kids. Because if you say, ‘Give me five minutes, give me ten minutes,’ it’ll be 15, it’ll be 20. And then when you get there, the shine will have worn off whatever it is they wanted to share with you. I’ve never gotten up to see something one of my kids wanted to show me and not been rewarded.”

I can name many more – Gandhi, Mandela, Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Robin Sharma – leaders who knew that leadership was more than just success on the job. Balance is something we all strive for and should. When you look back on your life at 80, which of the four aspects of life – Work, Family, Life experience and Social conscience – will you reflect upon and feel truly happy? Which kind of Leader do you hope people will remember you for: the old leader or the New Leader?

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