The number one quality of a 21st century leader is gradually gravitating towards agility. Things are moving real quick in this trembling snowballing environment. Be agile or you’ll be left behind. Dexterousness is a 21st century imperious must-have leadership skill. It’s important that we understand the antiquity of the 1840 Great Man Leadership history. It’s actually a theory that reverberates the personality within us, to do great things, all things being equal.
Leader agility on the other hand relates to our being and how our movements affect the results that emanate from our actions. It’s about decisions and outcomes. When you take any move, you must have a mental picture of the anticipated outcome. Don’t run and leave your thoughts behind.
Historically, the theory connotes that what leaders feed in must determine what they give out. If you feed in trash you may need a trash can to contain the outcome. Garbage in, garbage out, is undebatable, although some garbage are useful. Thanks to recycling.
A leader must have capacity to take in the right doses of knowledge so to meet follower expectations, every time. Every leader is unique with unique leadership style which is somewhat exclusive from each other with the exactness that is placed to outdo the leadership styles of their forerunners. In effect, leaders of today must be better than leaders of yesterday. I am not in the position to argue that now.
Nonetheless, the takeout is that, leadership fails, if the leader within the interactional framework, fails to raise followers. Although leadership authorities from 19th century and some philosophers of the 20th century did great work in leadership as a topical subject at that time, they nonetheless shortchanged academic reasoning. Their thoughts were one-dimensional.
This wasn’t good enough. In the 19th and 20th centuries, leaders were known for who they were and not necessarily for the things they did. That was the more reason why leaders built reputation for greatness. When Thomas Carlyle proposed the Great Man Theory in his book ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History,’ he compared extensive assortment of heroes. So the British, Baron Macaulay, advanced Carlyle’s approach as he hinted that ‘it is the age that forms the man, not the man that forms the age’.
To put the matter to rest, there is nothing like inborn talent, he echoed, though debatable. The main argument was that there was no proper scientific and logical evidence about inheriting heroism genetically from any ancestor to a descendant. More so, having all the qualities of a leader wouldn’t guarantee great leadership. Although leadership qualities may not be strictly inherent, it may not also be taught.
Invariably, leadership is learned. If there is any leadership skill to learn, it must be agility. Agile leadership is about staying way ahead of the curve. Nothing is stable. Change is imminent.
The VUCA environment explains it all. The greatness in you as proposed by proponents of The Great Man Theory may lead you to greatness but agility will teach you adaptability, all-round leadership intelligence, quick-thinking solution-driven abilities, vision-bearing, bigger-picture thinking, people management capacities, a spirit of learning and the thinking of strategy execution to remain ahead of the VUCA curve. Great Leaders fall. Agile Leaders float.
This is Leadership!