Geez, I’ve seen a bunch of posts and articles lately on the “evolution of leadership.” It seems a fair number of people are falling into the trap of believing that leadership needs to “adapt” to the “times.”
Well, that just ain’t so!
Certainly some, just some, of the tactics of leadership change through the years. The well documented generational differences dictate that change. Generally speaking, very generally speaking, the motivational triggers of the different generations vary, but not as much as many people think.
Given those variances good leaders adjust. But they don’t adjust to trick or manipulate, they adjust to deliver motivation, discipline, and vision in the manor in which it is best received.
While some leadership tactics change the core leadership principles and strategies do not.
They don’t change because leadership is about people and people haven’t really changed….ever.
The basic human needs, as described by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have never really changed. Humans as it turns out are human. It doesn’t make a difference when they were born, where they where born, what sex they are, what color they are, or if they are rich or poor, humans are human. Every single one of them.
Leaders don’t lead businesses, (businesses are managed) leaders don’t lead countries, (countries are governed) leaders lead people, nothing more and nothing less. Those people also happen to be human.
Leaders get in trouble when they forget that very basic fact.
One of the biggest reasons that people dislike change is because they see change as a threat to one or more of their basic human needs. A leader understands that just because it might not make sense to the leader doesn’t mean it isn’t very real to the person they are leading.
Here’s another thing that can cause challenges for a leader. While human beings basic needs are much the same no two people are exactly identical. Even identical twins would be better described as “more similar” than most people. Understanding the differences of the people you lead is what makes leading so interesting and a constant learning experience.
Great leaders understand the sameness of their people’s basic needs to develop leadership strategies and learn the unique aspects of their people’s personalities to develop the tactics of successful leadership. In both cases they never forget that they are leading people not things.
That’s why the most important skills for a leader to have are people skills. They always have been most important and they will always be most important. Because leadership is about people!
That’s never changed and it never will.
8 thoughts on “The Evolution of Leadership”
We could argue about strategy versus tactics night and day. As organisms humans evolve physically and mentally.
Thus, when, with a broad brush you say it makes no difference we’re one is born, their gender, race, ethnicity, rich or poor etc you may actually be breaking one of the fundamental strategies of leadership; it isn’t all about you.
So while making a clear point on general humankind it is short of definitive. It is an age old question about the impact of the environment on what humans do, how they do it, where, etc. Avoiding cultural impact is missing a fundamental principle in strategy. Tactic or strategy? Meaningful nonetheless.
On the contrary, I clearly state great leaders understand the differences in their people, no two are identical… must have missed that part.
Thanks for this article. I’ve read and heard a lot nonsense regarding leadership. I frequently speak to audiences and this is exactly the point I make. Your post is right on the mark.
Thanks Enrique, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I appreciate your kind words.
A great article Steve as a Humanist Counsellor I love the link to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Thanks Julie, I’m fascinated with all the changes in the world how little our most basic needs have changed. When we overlook people we overlook life.
When we overlook people we over look life…this is something we must never forget! Thanks for this article.
Thanks Ruth, indeed life is all about people. When we lose sight of that fact we also lose sight of life.