“Leadership is leadership is leadership, and it’s been that way thousands of years,” according to Kevin Eikenberry, chief potential officer of the Kevin Eikenberry Group. “Yes, context has changed but it’s still human interaction. Leaders are trying to help reach valuable outcomes with and through other people.” In the latest episode of ATD’s Talent Development Leader podcast, Eikenberry explains that leadership trends come and go, but when you get back to the basics, the essence of leadership hasn’t changed. What should change, however, is how we apply these fundamentals to different times. “What do we need to think about a little differently, what do we need to emphasize a little more, and what’s a new way to think about applying those foundational, unchanging principles?” Eikenberry asks.
Lately, I’ve been mulling over what makes someone a great leader. Years ago, I might have said that someone who pushes you to work harder, drives you to give more of yourself, and prioritizes achieving results above all else is a great leader. I would have suggested that someone who inspires a collective group of people to gladfully give their souls to productivity and performance showed outstanding leadership.
Today, I see things differently. The world has changed. Many of us have awoken to a fresh purpose in our work and are seeking a new balance in our lives. There is a collective backlash against putting in long hours and pushing ourselves to the brink of burnout. We have seen the detrimental impact of grind culture on our mental health. And we’ve all had enough.
Today, I think truly great leaders are those who encourage whole-person well-being, prioritize connection and belonging, and ensure psychological safety for all of their people.
DDI’s Key Leadership Trends for 2023 reinforces these shifts in leadership accountability. Three key trends include:
- Get ahead of burnout by reinforcing empathy skills, helping leaders manage their well-being, and developing leaders’ skills to manage work.
- Confront the trust crisis by reinforcing the importance of building trust, purposefully developing trust, and modeling trust from the top down.
- Lead virtual and remote teams effectively by helping leaders visualize their roles, developing leaders together, and creating more inclusive and engaging workplaces.
Leadership today isn’t only about being empathetic, inspiring trust, and getting virtual management right. Leaders are still accountable for achieving organizational goals and helping their people reach those outcomes. The focus on how to achieve results, however, is different.
Innovation leadership is one new approach. In his article, “Foster an Innovation Mindset Among Leadership,” Tim Tobin, vice president of franchisee onboarding and learning at Choice Hotels, posits that all talent development leaders have a role to play in helping their peers facilitate innovation. Three responsibilities of TD in driving collaborative and innovative leadership include being an innovator-in-chief, leading others to innovate, and creating an environment that enables innovation.
“If innovation leadership is the ability to inspire constant creativity and invention in others, our job is to make sure leaders have the tools, resources, support, knowledge, and skills to do that,” Tobin says. “And the more confident they are in their abilities, the more likely they are to inspire innovation, even in the face of uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk.”
At its core, leadership is simple, and we probably overcomplicate it. Yet, we will all be talking about improving leadership forever. Trends will come and go, and new gurus will suggest different ideas and frameworks. And ATD will be there every step of the way, bringing you the perspective you need to navigate these nuances.
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