DDLLC 2016-002 Why Leadership Still Reigns

As a full colonel in the US Army and having been a fair student of leadership for more than 30 years, with 3 full tours overseas from lieutenant through lieutenant colonel, I feel comfortable discussing the art and science of being a good leader. However, I have a strong curiosity about how Millennials feel about any need at all for leaders in our current socio-technologically evolving world. I mean, if we are all so interconnected through an ever growing number of social mediums, leadership decisions may better rest with just some newer code. Why look to an individual when a newer app is better able to keep pace with large crowds and achieve a collaborative consensus? So, why does leadership still matter?

In the first lesson, we discussed the basics of decision making. That sequence decision was deliberate in nature. Decision making before leadership: Why? Well, because, decisions can be made without leaders, but for you to be a leader you must have a strong appetite for making decisions. I contend, it is not possible for you to lead, if you cannot be decisive. In fact, if you stack up all the elements from all the literature ever written on leadership I would say the single most important attribute a leader must possess is decisiveness.

So, let’s blow through all the over-hype colloquialisms associated with being a sound leader. Leaders must ‘lead from the front’, ‘lead by example’, provide ‘purpose-direction-and motivation’, and be ‘able to enforce his/ her will over the will of those they lead’. Now, all of those mentioned are true. But, let’s move toward some lesser over-stated adjectives that transcend what a good leader resembles.

A good leader makes the uncertain more easily discernible. A good leader can impact a climate immediately in a positive way without destroying the necessary congruencies of the organization necessary for corporate achievement. A good leader is able to champion a new culture favorable to the stakeholder’s desires because they possess the three key qualities of durability, dependability, and determination. A good leader is able to simultaneously reduce fear and invoke it; is indefatigable yet compassionate; and, is an enforcer as well as a follower.

In short, a good leader is an individual of sound character whose galvanizing persona inspires others through the toughest times to achieve great success while never surrendering the moral and ethical high ground. 

So, in our contemporary ever-increasing technologically oriented environment, it may seem the need for leaders is fading. I’d say no. Although, I contend the adaptive leader of today does not look like one we are familiar. I contend the leader in today’s Millennial crowd is one who masters both the art and science of leveraging all social media and technological mediums to their advantage and to the advantage of their corporation. But, still possesses the finite qualities of strong character from a romantic yesteryear.

Perhaps, it has become far too easy to reach a technological solution for an enterprise wide problem than it is to adhere to a fundamental disciplined effort. Today’s leader, therefore, appreciate the increasing need for disciplined process management. Today’s leader must also inspire a new generation of people less hopeful of our global future than that of my generation. Today’s leader is much more comfortable operating in the virtual environment and as a result builds successful performance oriented systems without regard for geographical constraints.

Everlastingly, a true leader is somehow able to attract and hold the respect of their peers, colleagues, associates and friends. Today, this exists in a world much larger although far less real than the one I passed through.

It remains critical that our global society re-seize and retain the advantage of key leaders in this new world. Otherwise, we will continue to witness the surprise uprisings of groups harmful to our current Westphalian construct of free societies. These groups will gain legitimacy as ours slowly perishes. Decisions impacting tomorrow require sound decisions from Millennials today. They deserve our respect. Don’t kid yourself. Their world offers as much strife as any less technological generation. So, yes, now more than ever, it matters that our Millennials step up and demonstrate the same quality of character, the same galvanizing skills, the same passion for global welfare we have always pursued. But, for their generation, my hope is, with better decision making skills.