Post #001: Critical Leadership Competencies and Skills Required in the 21st Century

Leadership – Theories – Styles

(Editor’s note: Dr. Shahid Sheikh is the host of this longitudinal multi-week Blog, eNewsletter, Podcast, Vlog, Interview series on Critical Leadership Competencies and Skills Required in the 21st Century. The conversations generated by these posts will help shape the agenda of a book scheduled for publication in 2017)

This post, first in a two-part series discusses leadership, theories, and styles.

Although my intent is to catalogue the Critical Leadership Skills Required in the 21st Century, however, I think leadership is a complex topic. Rita Balian Allen in Are You A Perceptive Leader writes leadership requires a range of competencies to be effective and has many layers; therefore, I think it would be prudent to discuss leadership, theories, and styles, etc. before we begin to discuss the skills required to be an effective leader in the 21st Century.

In this first post, I will attempt to define the term leadership

Google the term ‘leadership’ and one will find 805,000,000 results. A deeper search reveals a dizzying array of leadership definitions and quotes on leadership. To quote a few:

Brittney Helmrich in 33 Ways to Define Leadership (Business Daily News, April 2016) writes, “Some people think leadership means guiding others to complete a particular task, while others believe it means motivating the members of your team to be their best selves.” Webster’s Dictionary defines leadership as “the power or ability to lead other people,” According to Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”

Perhaps, it would be easier to rule out what leadership is not. Kevin Kruse in What Is Leadership? (Forbes, April 2103) suggests, Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position, titles, personal attributes, nor the hierarchy of a company.

Sun Tzu described a leader as one who “cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to proper methods and discipline.” According to Lao Tzu “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Nineteenth-century historian Thomas Carlyle believed leaders were born and not made, while English philosopher Herbert Spencer argued that leaders were the result of the society in which they lived.

You can find 100 of the best ways to define leadership by Lolly Daska, President and CEO, and author of Lead from Within.

In the next post, I will attempt to briefly discuss leadership theories and styles.

Question is it true that in the tradition of contingency leadership theories that the leader reacts to a given situation and consequently has to be adaptable to it.

(The conversations generated by this post will help shape the agenda of a book scheduled for publication in 2017)

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