Everything You Need to Know About the 9 Key Traits that Define 21st Century Leaders

This is Part 2 of our special series on what qualities define the 21st century business leader. Today’s article explores in-depth the nine qualities that comprise modern, successful leaders.

In Part 1 of this series, we identified the nine key traits that all 21st century leaders need to master. Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these skills.

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    Key skill No. 1: Personal presence

    Personal presence is the dynamic energy that creates followers, energizes teams and builds creditability especially if it is built on authenticity.

    Key skill No. 2: High degrees of self-awareness

    Self-awareness is critical today as it is no longer acceptable for leaders to blindly act out with their team members. Self-awareness helps leaders understand where they need to either build skills, get support or bring in expertise.

    Key skill No. 3: Ability to acknowledge their habitual behaviors for the positive and negative impact

    Leaders can no longer act out blindly without consequence.  Even in the “old” days when leaders behaved badly, there were unacknowledged consequences that impacted organizational or team performance, morale, employee retention, and ultimately profitability. Acknowledging personal and habitual behaviors and then being willing to put mechanisms in place to change those with a negative impact and bolster or enhance those with positive impacts is critical to everyone achieving their goals and organizational success. Team members know that they don’t have to endure negative or bad behavior from their leaders and they are going public.

    Key skill No. 4: Clear and compelling vision

    We move toward the pictures we create. It is up to leaders to help their team to create a clear and compelling picture of the future that everyone can move towards. Sharing their vision in a clear and compelling way allows teams to connect to the end game and align their actions in support of getting to that picture of success.

    Key skill No. 5: Clear core values that guide their actions and decisions

    Values provide boundaries that guide decision-making and move away from “by any means necessary”. This keeps both team members and customers safe, legal, and walking in integrity. No longer can values be nice words that sound good and are placed on the wall or the back of business cards. They must be words to live by.

    Key skill No. 6: Facilitative skills to support dialogue and collaboration

    The complexity of today’s world and the fast pace of change requires facilitative skills to get team members to share the information they are holding and collaborate to create solutions or innovations that have not been done before.

    Key skill No. 7: Ability to see and hear others

    Being seen and heard is likely the most powerful experience we have as humans. Leaders who can hear and see their individual team members and the teams under their leadership have the opportunity to powerfully acknowledge and honor their work, motivate high performance, and sustain engagement in ways that keep team members engaged and satisfied.

    Key skill No. 8: Practical understanding of systems and how change happens

    For those leaders who have a keen understanding of how change happens and how their systems impact them, their industry and their people work, the more complete is the picture of their current reality and their ability to scan their internal and external environment and place their actions and timelines in alignment with the practical reality of their situation.

    Key skill No. 9: Spiritual practice that supports both their intuitive abilities and discernment

    If you interview any truly successful leader, there is some practice or place they go when all else fails them and they don’t have enough information to make the decision.  Often that is a spiritual place be it prayer, nature, meditation, etc. This allows them to access a power larger than themselves and move in a ‘good way’ with a solution that does the least damage to people, planet and profit.

    Remember, this is the first time in history that we have four and sometimes five generations in the workforce at the same time. Change is happening at an ever-accelerated pace. Things that were once unheard of are happening regularly or being created.

    The 21st Century leader needs to capitalize on their greatest asset, their people.  Both the younger generations’ enthusiasm, innovation and creativity as they want to make a contribution and understand how their work makes a difference and the seasoned team members who hold the institutional memory and understand the complexity of their systems and industry enabling them to see the implications of potential changes to the system. 

    The savvy 21st century leader can harness both of these vital perspectives and support the diverse perspectives hearing and valuing each other.  This allows them to use their team’s brilliance to powerfully shape solutions that take the whole organization into consideration and push innovation both internally and externally. These nine facilitative leadership skills of the modern leader support this kind of organizational culture.

    Monika Moss-Gransberry is a 30-year entrepreneur, business coach and organizational consultant, author of Life Mapping: A Journey of Self Discovery and Path Finding and The Technology of Doing Creating & Being, both self-mastery books teaching readers how to make their visions real. She is on the faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Initiative and the Gestalt OSD Center.  For more information on Monika’s work: www.mossgransberry.com and www.monikakmoss.com

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    Next up: Expert Insights - Be a Leader

    Expert Insights - Be a Leader

    COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach.

    COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach.

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    What aspect of leadership do your clients struggle with most and why?

    Easy question: doing instead of Leading

    If you’re like most leaders, you started your career in the trenches. As you worked your way up, your early successes were about doing a job well. If you founded the company, you were the production, service, and sales departments. Even if you began as a supervisor, you likely managed front-line associates and served as backup worker during peak times. 

    Now you hold a leadership role, but a conversation you still carry in your head is, “I can do X better than others.”  Stop that! You hired them to do the work and solve the problems—they need you to provide inspiration, coaching, and leadership!

    When you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time to manage people,” that’s a huge red flag that signals misaligned priorities. Try this exercise: Write down everything you do, then ask, “What should be getting done by someone else?”

    When I started coaching Jack, he was stuck in a direct consulting role and unable to achieve Partner status. To help him bridge the gap between doing and leading, we created an image of him on an actual bridge. He’s holding onto ropes of various lengths attached to either end.  He can only hold so many ropes, and in order to step forward and pick up a new one on the leading side, he must hand off something from the doing end to someone else. 

    What's one thing business leaders can do to balance a happy home life with a happy work life?

    The one thing business leaders can do to happily balance work and home life is to Focus. Life/work balance is not about time—it’s about how “present” you are during the time you have.

    The core issue for most people is a lack of boundaries between their two roles. Technology makes work-at-home possible, but the downside is it’s always pinging itself into your awareness.

    Follow the advice of Frozen’s Queen Elsa, and “Let it Go” every so often.  If you are distracted or stressed, time you spend with kids can actually be detrimental.  What they need most from you is to be fully present. Studies show quality of time is far more important than quantity. When you are with your family, especially kids, strive to be fully present.

    Eat dinner together. Have conversation. Read with them. Do activities. Even if it’s a short time, you’re creating memories and connections built on significant moments, not on duration.  You will feel more balanced and everyone will, in the end, feel happier. 

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    Next up: Getting Your Team on Board

    Getting Your Team on Board

    The staff of your small business is your most valuable asset. How do you go about engaging your staff and ensuring they are on board for all of the success you have planned? Here are some resources to help.

    The staff of your small business is your most valuable asset. How do you go about engaging your staff and ensuring they are on board for all of the success you have planned? Here are some resources to help:

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    Next up: Giving advice to the younger you

    Giving advice to the younger you

    During COSE's Annual Meeting on February 24, we asked attendees: "If you had 30 seconds or less to give advice to the younger you as they were embarking on their business career, what would you say?"


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    Next up: 'Good Food, Good Content, Good Conversation': COSE Members Explain the Value Behind the COSE Annual Meeting

    'Good Food, Good Content, Good Conversation': COSE Members Explain the Value Behind the COSE Annual Meeting

    In the lead up to the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting later this month, we will be running a series of stories focused on what attendees are hoping to get out of this year’s event and the lessons they’ve learned from previous Annual Meetings. Read on below to learn what attendees took away from the 2017 COSE Annual Meeting.

    The COSE Annual Meeting represents a unique opportunity for you to make connections and attend educational sessions that will contribute to the growth of your business. But don’t take our word for it. See below for what attendees of the 2017 Annual Meeting had to say about their experience.

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    Why did you register for the 2017 COSE Annual Meeting?

    Keith Ashmus, Frantz Ward LLP: It’s always about the people. Renewing friendships; getting new ideas; finding other professionals who are going through the same trials and tribulations; making new contacts; and getting psychic nourishment from the creative vibe of all those small business owners in one place.

    As for what I was able to take away, I learned that it is always important to have a vision and have fun trying to make that vision a reality.

    What value do you find in connecting with other COSE/Greater Cleveland Partnership members at events such as Annual Meeting?

    Mireille Wozniak-Michalak, Petiole HR: I was so busy during 2017 that it became difficult to keep in touch with my colleagues. Attending the Annual Meeting was my chance to say hello to these people and to remind myself to make time to meet with my fellow COSE members. COSE Annual Meeting is also an opportunity to be introduced to someone new.

    I’m also looking forward to learning about what COSE has accomplished on behalf of business owners such as myself and its priorities for 2018.

    What would you say to someone who is on the fence about whether to register for the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting?

    Alex Gertsburg, The Gertsburg Law Firm

    I would tell them that the events COSE and GCP put on, like the Annual Meeting, have really helped me personally increase my connections with fellow members and business owners. It’s also chock full of education and I have made friendships at events like this that I still keep to this day.

    Beyond that, I always have a good time. Good food, good content, good conversation.

    Swing on by the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting and get unique insights on leadership strategies and how to build a winning team from the Indians’ Terry Francona, Tom Hamilton and Paul Dolan. Click here to register today!
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    Next up: Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

    Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

    Three out of every 10 workers are not properly engaged at work, which can hinder a company’s performance. Check out these five tips to keep your workers happy and engaged and your company’s performance humming along.

    Throughout 2018, Mind Your Business will be reviewing the highlights of the 2017 BizConCLE event hosted by COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Today’s article focuses on the lessons small business owners can learn about engaging their employees from Gallup’s Stephen Shields. Read the other stories in this series here.

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    There are a lot of things businesses can’t control: their competition, federal and state regulations, costs, etc. But there is, according to Gallup’s Stephen Shields, one factor that companies can influence and that’s their own human capital.

    During a keynote address at the 2017 BizConCLE, Shields said the best way to manage this variable is by doing their best to engage the employees they have on staff. He defined the difference between an engaged employee and one who is not engaged as being the percentage of time they expend what he deemed “discretionary effort.” That is, that little something extra that isn’t in an employee’s official job description, but something they decide to do anyway on their own to help their organization.

    So, how do you create an environment within your business that encourages this engagement? Shields laid out five tips.

    Tip No. 1: Focus on the immediate supervisor of your employees (not the owner or senior leadership.) When Shields was a call center supervisor, for instance, he put on his calendar everyday that he would spend seven minutes each day walking the floor and talking with his direct reports on a personal level to establish more of a personal connection. This level of connection is important, he said, because people are emotional creatures, and not robots programmed to simply do a task.

    Tip No. 2: Keep things simple. Ask these direct bosses, what is one thing you can do to better engage with the staff (such as the example listed above.)

    Tip No. 3: Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them. That you listen and take their opinions to heart. You provide the resources to your teams to get the job done. And your employees understand the company’s mission and why certain actions are being taken.

    Tip No. 4: Weed out people who aren’t going to be an engaged employee early on during the interview process. (Shields said it takes four engaged employees to make up for one actively disengaged worker.) Ask them during the interview what the most challenging thing about their last position was and how they handled that challenge? If they make excuses about that position, chances are they’ll make more excuses if you bring them onboard.

    Tip No. 5: Hold everyone accountable. Don’t let your staff get away with not doing their jobs because that type of attitude will rub off on their coworkers.

    BizConCLE is just one example of the many educational events hosted by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE each year to help give the business community the knowledge they need to make their business a success. Check out this list of upcoming events to find one that’s right for you.
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