The vast majority of leaders surveyed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) agreed that the definition of leadership has changed in the last 5 years. This survey was the central part of a 2003 international study designed to forcast trends in the field of leadership.
The results of the study were published in 2007 in a report titled The Changing Nature of Leadership. One of the researchers, Andre Martin, comments that “[t]he most striking difference between the skills that were deemed most important in 2002 and those considered to be vital in the future is a new emphasis on skills that are tied to relationships and inter-connectedness. The new leadership skill set emphasizes participative management, building and mending relationships and change management.”
The research concludes that leadership will continue to shift over the next 5 years. The leadership skills that are expected to move to the highest priority are leading in ways that focus on flexibility, collaboration and crossing boundaries. Leaders with the capacity to build relationships, collaborate and effectively lead change will be critical to the long-term success of organizations.
Chuck Warnock correlated this report to the church with the following observations:
1) 21st century challenges require adaptive, not technical, changes. Adaptive changes are systemic, and require new solutions that we may not have thought of yet. Technical changes are improvements or adjustments to strategies we already know. Sunday School might be a good example. Does Sunday School need an overhaul (technical change) or is there a better strategy for teaching the Bible in the 21st century than “classes” on Sunday morning (adaptive change).
2) Develop a new skill set for leading. Participation, building/maintaining relationships and change management replace the old skill set of resourcefulness, decisiveness (“lone-ranger decision-making”) and doing whatever it takes.
3) Reward teamwork, collaboration and innovation. Collaborative, participatory teamwork emerges as the preferred strategy of the future and successful leadership will reward shared team efforts.