“Let me define a leader. He must have vision and passion and not be afraid of any problem. Instead, he should know how to defeat it. Most importantly, he must work with integrity.” — A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
The subject of leadership is a challenge. The leader is an easily recognizable member of a team: we know by their words, their actions who the leader is. But it can be difficult to pinpoint which words and which actions. Still more difficult to pinpoint is what specifically makes a good leader, the kind of leader we all want to be.
Being a good leader is difficult on the best of days. The context in which you find yourself may be beyond your control, and yet you are still expected to lead your team well. The situation faced by Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM), is a great example. In the face of the recall scandal, the newly-appointed Barra had to work on reshaping the company culture at GM as well as managing the crisis while still attempting to ensure that GM outsold its competitors.
Extrapolating from observations of how current business and political leaders are portrayed by the media, it appears that concept of leadership has become grossly distorted. These so-called leaders focus on spin and message control instead of focusing on engaging with details and making sound long-term decisions. Clearly a return to high integrity and ethics, plain-speaking, and clear/decisive communications is needed. Leaders who are willing to be accountable for their own actions instead of placing blame on an unwitting scapegoat, willing to take chances without pursuing simple appeasement of constituencies seem to be in short supply.
Changes in business culture are going to figure heavily in the future of leadership, according to Forbes. Leadership will have to evolve to ensure that the future of industry is a bright one. As employees and customers exercise more “pull,” leaders will have to think on their feet and remain purposeful and focused on growth. They will have to learn not to come up with the right answers, but to ask the right questions.