5 Hallmarks of New Leadership

Yoda spins his leadership mantras like a DJThe balance of power has shifted. Whether you recognize it or not there is a big gap between perceived leadership and actual leadership.

  • Old (perceived) leadership: These are the people with the titles, position, and authority of traditional leadership. These people are called “leaders” by vocation. In actuality, they have much power of big things but little power over your moment-by-moment interactions.
  • New (actual) leadership: These are people you are shaping your mind/heart/life around. They influence your thought life, they help shape your aspirations, they inspire you to be the you you really want to be.

These things have shifted in your mind. Heck, maybe you are frustrated because your own leadership has changed and you can’t figure out quite why?

Some examples… Your boss isn’t likely the boss you have on your job description. Your pastor isn’t likely the pastor you sit under. Your teacher might just be a fallback teacher compared to your guru.

It’s almost cute that traditional, old-style leaders, still think they have great influence with the people technically under their leadership.

That’s why one is perceived and the other actual.

In years past things like an organizational chart really mattered. Even if you didn’t have one, you respected a hierarchy that now baffles you with it’s out-of-datedness. If people were truly honest and asked themselves, “Who is actually leading and influencing me today”  their life org chart now looks more like a bowl of spaghetti than a pyramid.

So, these new leaders, how are they doing it? Because it’s not just an age thing. Plenty of old leaders are retaining leadership in this new age.

5 Hallmarks of New Leadership

  1. New leaders collaborate instinctively Old leadership looked at collaboration as a sign of weakness, something they did when they needed help. New leaders assume they need help and know that working together leads to a better end results. New leaders know that when great minds work together the result is always something awesome. Old leaders worry too much about protecting their territory/brand/knowledge base/customer base.
  2. New leaders begat thinkers Old leadership is intimidated by people who are smarter than them or better leaders than them. They build structures where they are the chief and people who work for them are followers. New leaders want the very best ideas and aren’t intimidated that the best idea came from an intern, new hire, or the janitor. They love it and celebrate when their employees leave to start something new. (Anathema to an old leader)
  3. New leaders lead from the the front lines, not the board room Old leaders love meetings, hold secrets from subordinates, and rarely do the work their organization is best known for. But new leaders are front liners, those who get dirty, those who avoid meetings so they can hang with the engineers, they are hands on and know their presence inspires those working alongside them. Old leaders spend a lot of time hiding while new leaders spend a lot of time on site, working their butts off.
  4. New leaders hate vacuums Decisions don’t come down from on high from today’s best leaders. They are group efforts, made in the best interest of all interested parties, because these leaders know they are in the trust business more than they are in business. Old leaders have a tendency to only look outside of their organizations for validation of their decisions as most of their decisions are made in a vacuum of the “top leaders.” New leaders look outside of their organizations all the time, they want to do what makes sense even if it defies logic.
  5. New leaders create environments Old leaders create structures, efficiencies, set priorities, and worry a lot about tasks & todo lists. New leaders care much more about the ecosystem of their environment, bring on the best possible people, and cultivate a place where the best stuff is celebrated, toxic people are fired, and space is creative.



5 responses to “5 Hallmarks of New Leadership”

  1. Jeff Goins Avatar

    I like this… but mostly for the Yoda pic.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I know, right? If I had found that image before I wrote the post instead of after it– I may have radically re-written the whole thing!

  2. Nick Ortega Avatar

    Wow, #5 is the dream work environment I have been searching for for twenty years…I have not found it anywhere, but I think I am on the path to creating it where I work now. Great to see a validation of what I learned (and try to practice) from great leaders I have gotten to work with.

  3. Kathy Leicester Avatar

    Adam, thanks very much for taking the time to write and post. I believe leadership is probably the single most important ingredient in our work environments, the one thing that most influences our satisfaction and joy with the workplace. There are few things so wonderful as working like a crazy person with a bunch of other people with a clear goal in mind, the deadline looms, the creativity bursts at just the right moment, the pizza is delivered at 2 am, and YES! We made it, we did it, we won.

    From my perspective, there is nothing “new” in your leadership traits; they are simply and importantly essential aspects of good leadership. This has always and still is true regardless of stiff hierarchy or loose collection of creatives. Some of the best most creative leaders I’ve experienced and read about are military, or from large corporate organizations.

    The idea that there is something new under the sun just doesn’t ring true with me. Replace the word “new” with the word “great” and I’ll be running with you all the way.

    Great post, very thought provoking, because many if not most of us work for people in leadership positions who really shouldn’t be.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      @twitter-55722200:disqus In this post, I certainly painted the other opinion into a corner. (Semi-intentionally) In my world, what I’ve labeled “old” could probably be substituted for “traditional forms of power/leadership in the church” and what’s new could be “all the wonderful adaptations in and around Christian people we see flourishing today.”

      By using old vs new language… I made it pretty clear which way each person “should” side who reads.

      Dirty trick, right?

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