As significant as the Iron Age and the Industrial Revolution, the Technology Age has heralded complexities into business environments. Likewise the emergence of new management disciplines, constantly evolving business models and other destabilising challenges to the status quo could be forgiven for having fostered a generation of conservative leaders preoccupied with maintaining a semblance of business as usual, and a justifiable obsession with risk management and control.

Is the traditional leadership model and its hierarchical organisation chart still relevant? While plotting a course for the future, most organisations are preparing for a highly evolved leadership model. The next generation of leaders were exposed to technology when it was reborn as a great business enabler.

Traditional command and control leadership certainly puts on a good show, but to be effective in modern times leaders must continue to evolve. They must have exceptional people management skills, often gained from highly individualised coaching and mentoring. They favour outcomes-based communications and team-based performance, with decision-making informed by data analytics and business intelligence – structures that are embedded in contemporary business practice.

Our next leaders, however, like those greats of the past such as Julius Caesar or Abraham Lincoln, will be far more visible in the community, have a bigger profile inside and seek greater exposure outside the organisation. They will embrace communications technology considered ‘disruptive’ by their predecessors, such as cloud-based solutions, mobile technology and social media, as effective means for targeting both broad and specific audiences. A new set of competencies will accompany this need breed of business leaders and those of us involved in executive search are already working with leading organisations to define them.

Furthermore, our future leaders will rely less on external parties for strategy. For executives, understanding the constantly changing nature of the role and responsibilities as part of the leadership team, will be as equally important as encouraging the development of new talent and opportunities.

No matter how you roll the die, culture continues to dominate the leadership discussion. The greatest challenge (and opportunity) for management in the twenty-first century, cultural fit is in the DNA of the organisation. In our TRANSEARCH Executive Search practice we see the acquisition of talent becoming more and more competitive every day. Those with leadership talent need to engage with an organisation’s culture to give purpose to its activity. Dynamic future leaders will in turn, attract others like them to the organisation. A recognition system (not Knights and Dames) that encourages collaboration and knowledge transfer may just prevent them sliding back down the corporate ladder.

Does your organisation have the ‘right’ future leaders? Is your leadership team driving holistic company performance?

Featured image: Knight and Horse by Hartwig HKD, Creative Commons licence and copyright