21st Century Leadership

Posted: October 4, 2012 by Matthew Hanwell in Leadership

I was inspired when watching this video of Bill George sharing his thoughts of 21st century leadership at Stanford.

Bill George Presentation at Stanford

Bill talks about Leadership being about people and clear sense of purpose, organizations are not machines. In particular I like his challenge of Leaders; questioning why they were selected for their positions

“Too many leaders have been selected more for charisma than character, for style over substance and for image over integrity”.

Provocative words, but Bill connects this with failed Leadership, with a Leadership Lost decade, and the failure of previously strong organizations where leaders focused on short term results and rewards and placed their personal needs ahead of that of the organization and institutions that were charged with leading. He doesn’t identify these failures with a lack of intelligence (IQ), but associates it to low levels of emotional Intelligence (EQ) claiming many of these failed leaders lack an awareness of themselves, and become seduced by success and its rewards – money, power, and recognition.

Bill identifies four areas that are essential for the leaders of today (and tomorrow):

  1. Align: Around the mission and values of the organization, and keeping in mind what they exist.
  2. Empower: Empowering other people to lead rather than controlling them through hierarchies.
  3. Serve: Serving the customers, employees and stakeholders.
  4. Collaborate: Enabling collaboration throughout the organization.

The 21st century calls for Authentic Leaders that are genuine in their intentions and understand the purpose of their Leadership is to serve their customers, employees and their investors, not their self-interest.


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