Are you a 21st-century leader?

Leaders can position themselves as leaders, rather than waiting.

By Ayelet Baron, CreatingIs, Danville, Calif. April 25, 2016

One of the biggest opportunities in today’s world is in the form of a new mindset that sees business as a force of good in the world. With this mindset, what your product or service is or does is as important as how much it helps the well-being of people and the planet. It’s about remembering why your business or organization was started in the first place, and what it offers to the world. It is tapping into that adrenaline rush the founders had when they birthed the idea and envisioned the difference they would make in people’s lives. This mindset also will enable employees to know deeply why anyone should care for and support them.

We have been conditioned to be "picked" over the past few centuries. People became business leaders either by starting a company or being promoted through the ranks. That scenario often translated to the need to work hard and then patiently wait for that promotion to fulfill your dream of being a leader. Or you would need to know the right people who would pick you to get ahead. The question the 21st-century leader must ask is, "Why do I need to stand in line and wait to be picked when I can pick myself?"

The world today needs a new breed of leaders: Those who will pick themselves because they can. Conscious leaders create their own way and set themselves apart. They know that when you are clear on your story, you can then play your part in it. These emerging leaders look at how they, others, and society fuse together. They are leaving behind the old model of business that dictates "profit before people" and embracing the belief that in the 21st century success means helping others and society.

The 21st-century leader believes she serves a greater purpose and contributes to the greater good in business and life. This person shows up as a whole person and is "life working," or balancing work and life. She is clear on the purpose life serves and how to fuse it with business. She connects with people at a core level and understands the importance of trust and relationships in every part of her world. Conscious leaders focus on continuously asking themselves these questions:

  • What’s my life’s purpose? What does it propel me to create in the world?
  • Why am I trusted to conduct meaningful business?
  • How can I help other people see themselves as trusted leaders, themselves, so they can show up as who they are and make the impact they want to make in the world?
  • How will my life’s work make the world a better place for me, my community, and the world?

Conscious leaders have a strong sense of self. They know who they are and also take care of themselves. To them, success means making a difference in the world. They energize people, not burn them out. They understand the importance of their own well-being and respect the needs of others to be whole and healthy people.

If you are a 21st-century leader, you are a business leader with a potent imagination and a desire to explore possibilities. You have a knack for seeing more than others, and everything you do impacts people. You feel that investing in others is good and sustainable for your business. You trust others to solve and decide—and then get out of their way.

Ayelet Baron is a futurist at CreatingIs. She is an early technology adopter who speaks, writes, and consults on ways to ignite people and organizations to gain a 21st-century edge. Baron will present "21st Century Leadership: The Future of Lifeworking" at the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference in May.