21st Century Leadership Challenges Essays

Leadership In The 21st Century Essay

INTRODUCTIONNew societal conditions are eliciting new forms of leadership necessary to launch and sustain the transitions toward more knowledge-intensive societies. Leadership in the digital age needs new attitudes, new skills, and new knowledge gained through unique professional experiences responsive to the societal features identified earlier.

We must distinguish between two related but different leadership categories. The most inclusive category is "leadership in the digital age," which refers to leadership in any institution or sector embedded in the broader transitions toward a more knowledgeintensive society. All leaders, whether leaders in health, the arts, or manufacturing, must be aware of the new constraints and opportunities that ICTs provide and use them effectively. The second category, "digital leadership," refers to leadership in the core sectors of the knowledge society-the three C's of computing, communications, and content (broadcasting and print and now multimedia). The two categories of leadership are closely related, and many leadership innovations, such as the use of website portals to link customers and suppliers, originated in the core ICT sectors and diffused from there.

Digital leaders can be defined functionally by their contributions to the transition toward a knowledge society. These contributions include awareness building, resource mobilization, operational leadership, and structural leadership. Awareness-building leaders convince sections of the population to attend to the new ICTs as resources that can help them achieve their goals. Resource-mobilizing leaders convince social actors to obtain and deploy valuable resources, whether money or high-level political support, to spread ICTs more widely. Indeed, mobilizing an effective pro-diffusion political coalition is an essential element of digital leadership and in leadership in the digital age more broadly. Pro-diffusion coalitions are societal groups that support legal, regulatory, legislative, organizational, and other changes necessary for the new technologies to diffuse, changes such as greater research and development budgets, ending monopolies in favor of greater competition, lower prices, private entrepreneurship, and so forth. Leadership is also expressed through operational activities, whereby leaders, often in government or private companies, actually provide and manage the hard infrastructures like telecoms networks as well as the soft infrastructures like education and research at the core of the knowledge society. When notable people are able to convince audiences that the information revolution is not only about using ICT tools but also about shifting toward a new kind of distributed, digital society, they are engaging in structural leadership.

Digital leadership innovation is not static but rather changes through time. Because...

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Baptiste Raymond, climate change initiatives manager, Lafarge

To me, 21st century sustainability leadership is about courage, creativity and faith in people. It is a values-based leadership.

Sustainability opportunities and challenges are so complex, both of global scale and yet deeply rooted in people's cultures and beliefs, that tomorrow's leaders will need four core qualities to achieve success:

• systems thinking to identify paradigms driving change

• mediation skills to facilitate knowledge sharing, ensure stakeholders' ownership and foster innovation

• vision rooted in community service and ethical behaviour

• decisiveness in ever changing environments with blurred boundaries

To me, 21st century leadership is about leading with the heart and to serve rather than rule.

Roberto Jiménez, senior analyst strategy development, Group CO2, Shell

Business leaders will need to be motivated by personal values, rather than just financial performance, in order to address the development issues we face. They will need to show a commitment to their beliefs over time in order to draw continued efforts from others. Spreadsheets and data analysis have sized-up the problem, and will help develop credible pathways to reducing emissions, conserving resources and protecting human rights. However, to push the sustainable development agenda forward, business leaders will need to make issues deeply personal.

Yuri Itoh, manager, Environmental Strategy Office, Hitachi

People tend to seek leaders who have a strong character, clear picture for the future, and talk fluently. They are often praised by the results. However, I think now people also care about the processes used to achieve the outcome. Therefore, future leaders for the sustainability need to have qualities that were not required in the past. These are:

• enthusiasm to create a better world

• strong principles whilst being flexible and realistic

• patience

• sincerity and fairness

• collaborate and work together

• take risks and give the fruits to people

Mariano Spitale, sustainability manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers

I am optimistic about Rio+20, which will give new impetus to future leaders and will renew the agenda for sustainability for the coming decades. From my perspective, there are two key issues for a future leaders in the field of sustainable development.

One characteristic that will make a leader successful in the 21st century will be knowing how to identify and apply appropriate economic, moral and political incentives to actually incorporate sustainable development into our daily lives. I personally believe that this aspect has not been properly addressed in the past 20 years since the first summit was held in Rio.

Additionally, the world has changed substantially in the last five years. Its nerve centre is no longer just in the so-called developed countries - emerging countries have earned very significant weight globally as well. With this in mind, the next leaders must be vigilant to the challenges and opportunities for innovation that will come from companies and societies in these countries.

John Qiang Zhao, business sustainability manager, DuPont

I believe that future leaders need to lead their enterprises to define 'profit' in the context of what kind of impacts the company will have on the earth. They will understand that as a leader of a multinational company, they should better utilise their unique position to influence the behaviour of various stakeholders including governments, suppliers, customers and the general public in many countries. Working together with other far-sighted leaders, we will eventually find that mercy and leniency are imbedded into our company's profit. Also, we will set a model for many more companies to follow and thus make fundamental changes happen in the world.

Eugenia Ceballos, global procurement manager, Holcim Group Support Ltd

Bjorn Z.Ekelund classifies people into three types of colours:

• Blue: concrete and practical people who search for solutions that must be useful and serve a cause. They focus on facts and accurate details and deliver precision of end results

• Red: people who enjoy spending time with each other and get energy from being with others. They share feelings, show respect and are patient.

• Green: people who enjoy new and untraditional ideas. They like the idea of doing things different and enjoy looking deeply into issues. They have the characteristic to look at the overall picture form different angles and offer imaginative solutions. They are ambitious with high goals.

This is a good set of qualities for future leaders to build on in order to push sustainable development forward. The next level in the sustainable development journey requires a radical change in the way we do business and in the way we act as individuals and as a group. A challenging change of culture.

Future leaders shall promote and drive this common way of thinking and acting. This can only be achieved if they are able to create innovative strategies, ones that drive a change in culture by engaging people and creating a shared need.

We need leaders that are able to build awareness and mobilise commitment, leaders that are capable of consolidating gains to produce more changes, leaders with credible plans to get there and leaders with enough energy to communicate, communicate until it hurts. Future leaders should have a good palette of blue, red and green qualities enabling them re-shape culture through engaging and mobilising people.

Shannon Sung Hee Shin, manager at Green Management Center, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

I believe that a sustainability leader of the 21st century has to have the ability to create a meaningful context out of the existing sustainability landscape. Sustainability is a broad notion that encompasses all aspects of our lives from economic to social and environmental actions. A number of ways to promote sustainability is infinite, and this vague plethora of contents is often the source of difficulty in raising awareness and participation in the movement toward sustainable future. It is therefore important for future leaders to recognise and provide innovative, sensitive, and meaningful sustainability possibilities.

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