Old models and approaches are being continually repackaged, but does leadership thinking really have anything new to offer in 2019?

Cirrus CEO Dr Simon Hayward comments in the ILM Edge magazine.

It appears we are slowly but surely moving away from the ubiquitous image of the ‘pale, male and stale’ leader. Today we are starting to embrace a more inclusive idealogy of what a leader could, and should, look like.

The rising popularity of certain leadership models over the last few decades has contributed to this shift. These leadership models include:

Agile: an adaptive, flexible, resilient leadership style based on being able to respond quickly to unfolding situations.

Co-leadership: where two people, who ideally have different strengths and weaknesses, share responsibility.

Collaborative: where leadership takes place across functional and organisational boundaries.

Distributed: where leadership is distributed among a team of individuals.

Humble; treating others with respect, regardless of their position, role or title.

Inclusive: this is a people-oriented leadership approach that focuses on leaders challenging their own biases and appreciating the contributions of others.

Rotating: where different members of a team adopt leadership positions at different times.

Dr Simon Hayward, author of The Agile Leader and chief executive of Cirrus leadership consultancy, says empathy is key to being an agile leader. “Agile leaders are, as their name suggests, socially adept and able to change and connect with a wide group of people,” he notes. “Empathy is critical to building trust, and agile leaders trust others, empowering them to do a great job and to collaborate with people across diverse areas,” he says. “Rather than reinvention, they encourage experimentation and learning by creating a safe environment in which to make mistakes.”

It is clear we still have a long way to go if we are to comprehensively overturn long-held assumptions about leadership. Nevertheless, the existence of a wide range of of leadership models – and the momentum behind leaders with so-called ‘soft skills’ such as empathy, humility and emotional intelligence – has to be seen as progress.

© The Edge 2019

This is an extract of an article by Georgina Fuller in the Spring 2019 issue of The Edge magazine. You can view the complete article and the entire issue here.

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