Leadership mindset in today’s world!
Someone I have a great deal of respect for reached out and asked me to share my thoughts on a quote she saw posted on LinkedIn: “The traits that guided yesterday’s leaders no longer work in today’s world.” My initial response to her was, “I will revert to a common statement all doctoral students use during their doctoral journey. It depends!”
I think there are a lot of core foundational leadership principles from yesterday that are still relevant for today’s leaders. However, I see a need for change in the mindset of moving away from traditional leadership thoughts (personal views regarding work-from-home, work-life balance, fostering innovation, and becoming more inclusive and diverse).
Inclusion & Diversity
From my perspective, inclusion and diversity needs to include everyone! There is an entire segment of the population, military veterans, who face conscious, social, and unconscious biases and stereotypes that do not accurately reflect service members, which is the focus of my academic research. Most of the bias literature addresses discrimination issues covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, focusing on women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. The management literature is limited related to the biases (either for or against) military veterans in the employment selection process.
Many scholars recognize the importance of this type of research and offer practical solutions for companies to combat these biases concerning the military population. Companies need to rethink all diversity and inclusion initiatives and ensure everyone is represented. However, it’s essential that organizations design diversity training to avoid it backfiring on them. A one-hour diversity training isn’t sufficient, and anyone who believes that training will rapidly result in greater diversity will be disappointed . This is a three to twelve-month carefully designed initiative where those who create and develop these programs must have both the education and subject-matter expertise to do so. The proper training by the right content creator can effectively educate and inspire employees to change their behaviors.
Leadership & Entrepreneurial Mindset
I also believe leaders need to create an innovative entrepreneurial mindset for their employees to be relevant in today’s rapidly changing business environment. This would require developing an entrepreneurial mindset in some of their employees. Not all employees have an entrepreneurial spirit, so organizations need to determine which individuals would embrace this type of change. My colleagues and I have researched Emotional Intelligence and Entrepreneurial Intention. Our measurement scales and subject matter expertise could help organizations navigate the complexities of this type of initiative.
Leaders as Disruptors
I see a tremendous opportunity for leaders to see themselves as disruptors (a great definition of an entrepreneur) in their respective industries. I’ve watched firsthand as a VP of Operations in the transportation and logistics industry has implemented this type of entrepreneurial mindset to find an innovative solution to a complex problem facing the shipping industry. This individual has created a win-win situation for his organization, a new customer, and ultimately consumers who would benefit from the merchandise shipping from China to the United States.
It’s not just thinking outside of the box but throwing the metaphorical box out of the window and viewing their organization through a completely different lens. But, one issue that many leaders and organizations will have to overcome is the slow, bureaucratic red tape to make things happen. As an entrepreneur, you have to focus on speed over perfection. Organizations need to quickly obtain a first-mover advantage to capture as much revenue and market share in their industries. In this instance, you must move beyond the “death by meeting” analysis paralysis and take risks.
The leader in today’s world needs to move beyond the old way of thinking. Statements such as, “that’s not our core competency, that’s not our niche, that’s not what we do” are no longer viable. Leaders must develop a mindset more in terms of “what is happening right now, where are the pain points in my industry, and how can I (as a leader) be more intentional to think more creatively and be innovative in the space I’m in.” It’s about taking leadership to the next level and being reminded of the following quote: The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way.’ (Grace Hopper)
Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, an executive consulting firm focused on organizational effectiveness. Extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, leadership, and digital marketing. Over ten years of teaching experience as a Visiting Professor of Management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.
_________________________________________________________________________  Emerson, J. (2017). Don’t give up on unconscious bias training—Make it better. Harvard Business Review, 28.  Madsen, S. R., & Andrade, M. S. (2018). Unconscious gender bias: Implications for women's leadership development. Journal of Leadership Studies, 12(1), 62-67.