HOW TO BE A LEADER IN THE 21ST CENTURY

In today's world, the choice of leadership for businesses/organizations is not just about having experience and ideas anymore – the operating space continues to expand owing largely to advancements in technology, sharing of intellectual property, and open borders. Businesses have to take into consideration contrasting societal values, government policies, demographic and physical environmental challenges, besides ever growing competition boosted by trends in technology. That ‘the world is just a global village’ is a fact that successful businesses/organizations have come to embrace. Shrinking local market sizes means that businesses have to look beyond borders to expand their brands and be economically viable. This means ‘sleeping with strange bed fellows’ for many businesses and organizations which should be strategically managed.

Therefore,leaders of such businesses/organizations must be able to think outside the box and accommodate different values and belief systems; they must take into account that knowledge itself is unique and that what works for A may not work for B; ideas are often inspired by environmental forces so having a workforce recruited from the locality will enrich the think-tank.

Business operations cannot be on a ‘one size fits all’ basis – local customs and traditions should be given due accord and, as much as possible,upheld to ensure that businesses/organizations carry out their activities in a hitch-free environment.Businesses/organizations must move away from the talk-down approach previously used by missionaries and colonialists – to achieve their goals,

they must engage local stakeholders to understand what their needs and aspirations are and carve a niche for themselves. Good people skills cannot be overemphasized especially in areas of high diversity: creative thinking skills must be applied to manage social dynamics and balance interests. Business leaders must be able to identify and meaningfully engage salient elements of society

that could either make or mar their operations/interests early on. The previous statement, provided within all confines of the law, could give an edge over the competition.Technology has forced a paradigm shift in business operations. There are more interactions across devices than there are across the dinner table. Transactions and deals are closed by proxy without hitches and communication is almost seamless from tablets, laptops or desktops. A business leader must be acquainted with the latest applications at their disposal for effectiveness. This, by itself, can be tasking which, therefore, creates a need for leadership to engage a technical team to keep up with the ever evolving trends.

More than anyone would like to admit, a lot of decisions today are influenced by the internet (which underscores the role of technology in business operations). Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. have an outreach that is unrivalled. To deploy this tool, again, leadership must engage individuals across demographics to ensure that the target market reached – even the language used must be given serious consideration (such as well spoken and written pidgin). A strong social media presence will localize the business/organization making it more acceptable to its clients. Again, content must be localized as much as possible to ensure integration.Social media platforms also make it possible for businesses to operate across borders cost effectively. Facebook conferences or meetings have developed in the last decade and have proven to be a very effective way of getting stakeholders together to take decisions. The smart company is the one with a Facebook savvy executive.

And yes, while technology has brought a lot of good tidings to the business world, it has also brought along with it unethical practices that have given rise to unhealthy competition. Business leaders must have a team that responds to such threats as posed by hackers to guard against trade secrets being leaked to the competition.Workforce should be recruited with a view to pool ideas and talent beneficial to the business/organization from the locality. Thereafter, such ideas and talent should be given a chance to flourish naturally and not be buried under assumed best practices or conventions.

Professional training for the workforce should target both content development and delivery with the business and global traditions in mind. The leadership must bring individuals across board to the drawing table and infuse their ideas into the blue print. A global business must have different faces wearing the same expression without entirely compromising their identities.Smart companies constitute a think-tank made of people from around the world to feed them with ideas that correspond to the needs of different locations.

Governments across the globe have different policies, so do banks, insurance companies, law courts and other public services.An understanding and adoption of these different policies is key for companies to operate outside their home countries. As such, business leaders must engage efficient people to handle these matters. Needless to point out, it is best to appoint locals to such positions.In today’s world a business leader needs to be more than qualified, needs more than a century long experience,

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know more than their onions to take their business to a global level. A business leader must be able to go against the norm, think the perceived unthinkable and accept the unacceptable. Business leaders must be able to sell their vision to multiple and diverse groups. They must have basic comprehension of new trends in technology and constitute a team that maximizes the benefits of such trends. A global business leader should be ready to change their opinion about a lot of things in order to accommodate new ideas. Today’s global business leader must be ready to follow as much as they are ready lead; they must be ready to delegate leadership overseas and be guided by others.
Smart companies appoint executives who are able to connect with the environment they operate in to achieve their set objectives and implement their vision; who are able to bring the world together at the same table; who are continuously learning and providing learning opportunities for others; ready to adopt new ways of doing old things and getting improved results; who want people working with them and not for them.