Forty years ago, there was little talk in business about engaging employees, coaching and developing direct reports, or cultivating the company culture. Many people stayed at the same organization for most of their career. Traditional managers, who were task-oriented and provided a lot of direction but very little inspiration, were tolerated. The command and control style of leadership prevailed.
The landscape of the work environment has changed. Employees have more choices, and will leave an organization where they don’t feel valued or appreciated. Traditional leaders won’t survive in the best organizations; there is only room for modern leaders.
We all have heard horror stories of ineffective, bad bosses. But in my experience, most traditional leaders are not narcissistic and power-hungry. They are mediocre managers (and executives) who lack the necessary leadership skills to be successful. They aren’t naturally inclusive, approachable, and engaging, and their leadership style reflects that. To succeed in leadership today, managers need to be modern leaders. A modern leader is approachable, engaging and focused. The modern leader promotes an environment of productivity and positivity.
You may be a traditional leader and not know it. But trust me, your employees do. They are talking about it behind your back, and your high-performing employees are looking for a quick exit (if they are still there). Read below for what distinguishes a traditional leader from a modern leader:
• command and control
• doesn’t provide feedback
• focuses on finding mistakes and reprimanding; holds people accountable through fear
• very little engagement with employees
• no coaching or development
• believes the paycheck is the reward for work
• thinks he/she should know all the answers
• more task-oriented and in the weeds
• thinks he/she worked hard to advance and deserves leadership
• encouraging and inviting
• provides timely, constructive, consistent feedback
• focuses on learning from mistakes; holds people accountable in a positive, principled way
• finds ways to consistently engage with employees
• sees coaching and developing as a top priority
• actively thanks employees and shows appreciation
• solicits ideas and suggestions from employees; encourages employee involvement
• more proactive, strategic, and visionary• sees leadership as a privilege and enjoys serving his/her employees
The first step to transitioning from a traditional leader to a modern leader is awareness. Take time to reflect on your leadership and determine in what areas you need to develop. The best organizations only hire and keep modern leaders.