Industry Insights | 2 min read

Are you a 21st century leader?

Manage less, lead more and be an inclusive leader. This was the advice of executive coach and global motivational speaker, René Carayol, in his presentation to the approximately 1200 attendees at the Glacier Outlook 2021 webinar on Friday, 5 February. The webinar aimed to examine the global social, political, economic and leadership issues of our time, and how they impact on investing and practice management.

A title doesn’t make a leader

Leaders are found, not made or born, says Carayol. It’s not a title, and a person can lead from anywhere. In this volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world, where things move quickly, it’s leadership and not management that will get us to where we need to be.

The difference between 20th and 21st century leadership is the focus on people, and people need clarity, certainty and hope. While management tools are necessary, they form the hardware in organisations, to get things done.  Leadership is the software that taps into people’s creativity, empathy, collaborative spirit, and sparks their imagination to see beyond the job they are doing to the shared vision.

20th century versus 21st century leadership

While management involves the mission, strategy, balanced scorecards, tasks and processes, leadership encompasses the purpose, vision, people, teams and culture of the organisation. The latter involves storytelling, optimism and making people feel special, and part of something special. Carayol outlines these differences in the table below:

  20th century leadership    21st century leadership
Optimises the known
Involves long-range planning
Commands and controls
Cascades the corporate mandate
Drives numbers
Forces talent to fit the role  
Creates possibilities
Envisions the future, then makes it happen
Unleashes creativity
Drives purpose
Brings out everyone’s ‘spike’  

The keys to inclusive leadership

Collaboration is key to 21st century leadership, says Carayol. No leaders are good at everything. Everyone is brilliant at something. Inclusive leaders tap into every person’s brilliance, recognising their responsibility to make their people part of something special. It’s no longer about choosing the best person for the job, but the best person for the team.

Another key is authenticity and honesty – brutal honesty.  If things are going well, share that with your team. If they are not, be honest. Let your people know and don’t sugar-coat, says Carayol.

How to spot a leader

It’s quite simple, says Carayol, leaders are those who can influence and persuade without authority. He lists some traits of 21st century leaders:

  • They speak from the heart.
  • They are transparent, authentic, optimistic, empathetic and brutally honest.
  • They don’t hunker down.
  • They challenge up and support down.
  • They steal people’s hearts, without meaning to.
  • They spark people’s imagination and collaborate widely.
  • They are sincere when they make people feel special, and part of something special.
  • They learn quickly.
  • They go digital.
  • They pivot fast and are agile.
  • They don’t over analyse.
  • They have two to three spikes – their team brings everything else.

View Rene’s presentation

View the Glacier Outlook 2021 webinar content page

Glacier Financial Solutions (Pty) Ltd and Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd are licensed financial services providers.

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