Redefining Effective Leadership

Jocelyn Bérard, M.Ps. MBA is the Vice President of International Leadership and Business Solutions (Vice-président Leadership et Solutions d’Affaires — Internationale) at Global Knowledge Canada

For some time now what defines effective leadership is very much about what leaders do. Do they think and act strategically? Do they communicate effectively? Do they give feedback that enhances performance?

While what leaders do continues to be a central focus of leadership development, more and more emphasis today is being placed on how leaders do what they do and the impact their behavior has on the teams they lead and the results they achieve. Focus is also placed on the leader’s learning agility, their social and emotional intelligence, their capacity for dealing with cognitive complexity, and their capacity for adopting and internalizing new ways of thinking and behaving.

This shift in emphasis emerged in response to the many new realities today’s leaders face: a global economy, demographic shifts, a diverse workforce, increased interconnection and complexity, ever changing technologies, and escalating pressures for bottom line performance.

The Ever Changing Business Environment
Today’s business environment is complex, integrated, fast, flexible, and constantly changing. Communication channels and information are readily available through the internet, collaboration tools, and social media. Time and geography are collapsing, creating a world that is highly interconnected. Decisions made locally create ripples felt globally.

Information is no longer a power available only to leaders.

Taking Advantage of Team Players and Diversity
Today’s knowledge workers want to be engaged in deciding what direction to take. They want to generate ideas and creative solutions. Leaders do not have to hold all of the answers; in fact they can’t. They do, however, have to be open and collaborative with their teams — and with others in the organization and beyond. Diversity must also be embraced: geographical diversity, cultural diversity and generational diversity.

Optimizing diversity is now an integral part of the role of all leaders in all organizations at all levels. Today’s customers are diverse, knowledgeable, and selective. Today’s employees are also diverse, knowledgeable, and selective and are motivated by autonomy, the desire to contribute and the desire to grow.

In Days Gone By…
Gone are the days when one leader (whether a company president or a team leader) could create and hold all of the vision, strategy, creative ideas, expertise and information. Gone are the days of the superstar leader who carried the rest of the team “on his back.” Gone are the days of dictatorial, authoritarian, and controlling leadership styles being viewed as ways of mobilizing people towards high performance. Gone are the days of linear thinking or working in silos proving to be effective. Gone are the days of living within the “status quo.”

Knowing how to create, adopt, and internalize new ways of thinking and acting is becoming the primary focus of leaders and of leadership theory and practice. Leaders are being challenged to move beyond old forms, whether these are organizational structures, communication channels, decision making styles, or personal behaviors and to create new realities for themselves and their organizations.

To access the full Special Report: Looking to the Future — Leadership and Learning Forecast for Business Leaders, visit

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