CRITICAL PATH II: Leading in the 21st Century

The 21st century will continue to be challenging and problematic for organizations and their leaders. There will be unanticipated and unplanned change, uncertainty and marketplace upheaval. There will be increased pressure from the boards and directors of organizations to remain in a competitive and leadership position. This will manifest itself in the quest to produce quality products and the world-class delivery of services. This will invariably result in the requirement to make accurate decisions under circumstance of extreme uncertainty. It will not be uncommon for organizations to experience significant turnover in leadership positions as the pressure to attain strategic goals increases.

The following is a partial list of challenges leaders will continue to face in the 21st century:

  • Innovation – the pace of innovation will continue to increase. This can create new industries and disrupt old ones. Leaders must create a sense of urgency to prepare the organization to embrace this phenomenon.
  • Work/ Life Balance – there is a connection between one’s physical health, emotional health and job effectiveness. The expectation to be available and lead 24/7 can lead to disastrous consequences for the individual and the organization.
  • Generational Differences – etc. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. Managing older workers as well as digital generational workers is extremely challenging and will continue to be in this century and beyond.
  • Diversity – leading a workforce comprised of ethnic minorities and mature workers will require the continuing refinement of communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Organizational Culture – the values and parameters of behavior will require skills to achieve “by in “from the organizational members.
  • Organizational Ethics – the written and unwritten rules and actual practices of what is “right” and “wrong” will be challenged by organizational members as they are debated and changed in the larger society.
  • Employee Development – employees will need to be developed to meet the increased need to meet strategic goals to remain and lead in competitive market segments
  • Global Marketplace – managing an extended workforce and interacting with global customers and stakeholders. The impact of globalization will lead to strategic challenges of mixed cultures and languages in the business environment.
  • Technology – will continue to impact the way organizations operate – train and develop their people, deliver products and services and interact with their internal customers, external customers and stakeholders.
  • The developing world – responding to a change economy
  • Attracting and retaining superior talent
  • Increase demand for knowledge workers in knowledge-driven organizations
  • Virtual Leadership – leading an internet-based environment will continue to be challenging and require particular skills and vision
  • Organizational Development – the ability to manage change in the internal and external environment, make complex decisions and solve difficult problems
  • Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – are challenges that will become more pronounced and common in this century and beyond.
  • Increased demand for world-class customer
  • Increased demand for high-quality products and services

Leading in the 21st century and beyond will be challenging. Leaders will need to be visionary, decisive, creative, pioneering, results and performance-oriented. They will need to have the insight to anticipate what will happen and understand the underpinnings of the marketplace – global and domestic. They will be required to make functional and structural changes and lead a “guiding team” to get organizational buy-in. They must develop the next generation of dynamic leaders. The focus must be on the aforementioned challenges to remain competitive and relevant in this century and beyond.