Do We Still Need Strong Leaders?

During the 15 years I taught leadership in one of the top Executive MBA programs in the US, one of the most consistent statements students made was how profoundly their sense of leadership shifted because of the class. They were able to rethink what "strong" means in leadership from the traditional industrial model of super-parent promising provision and protection in exchange for compliance and loyalty. In that world, the strong leader was expected to think, decide, incentivize, punish and arbitrate for the group.

As we now define and measure engagement today, the old model became responsible for the current 70-80% worldwide employee disengagement that we have evidence for today, a number that's been unfortunately consistent over the past decade of research.

In the Information Age of unprecedented change, complexity and connectivity, a strong leader characterizes a whole different set of competences and qualities because they derive their power from engagement not disengagement.

Strongly engaging leaders are skillful in facilitation, connecting, provoking curiosity and experimentation, catalyzing new conversations and creating vibrant cultures of learning and trust. These are the kinds of strong leaders who will take organizations forward in this Age that has little in common with the previous.