A leader is someone who commands a group or organization. Someone who inspires respect from their peers and guides them to accomplish more. People like Churchill, Mark Cuban, Steve Wozniak, and Alexander the Great may come to mind when recalling leaders.
However, there’s one thing all the leaders we just mentioned have in common. Whether it was a country, company, or continent, they were all at the top of their hierarchy. This can trick one into thinking there’s only one leader per group.
That’s not true.
Now more than ever, leaders are at all levels – at least in successful organizations.
Modern leadership is not about power or hierarchy; great leaders today are visionaries who support their team members in order to realize their vision.
But how do you grow into a great leader? And how do you develop others into leaders who enrich your workspace and motivate others?
The Dangers of Hustle Culture
Hustle culture is a form of toxic productivity. The concept promotes overwork; the more extra hours you spend “hustling,” the more you’ll achieve. Some leaders think glorifying the hustle is a fast way to make a workspace more productive. However, recent studies have found that enforcing a hustle culture harms workers’ well-being.
Over 77% of US workers have experienced burnout due to an “always on” – or hustle-style – work culture. Hustle culture creates an impression that you don’t care for your employees’ well-being, only for their material achievements. Plus it’s hard for your followers to feel motivated if they never see an end to their work or a celebration of milestones.
New leadership styles emerge as hustle culture burns out (no pun intended). Rather than commanding their followers to hustle harder, modern leaders share power. They think of the whole human and inspire each worker to achieve a shared goal. If your team knows that you care for their well-being, they will feel more involved in your vision.
Thus, this democratization of leadership becomes the source of the modern leader’s power; people follow and respect you because they want to be a part of the vision. Your leadership helps them understand their role in advancing towards your shared purpose and what success will look like.
Modern Leaders vs. Old-School Bosses
The easiest way to see the effect of a modern leader on the workspace is by comparing it with the old-fashioned boss.
The old-fashioned boss gets their authority based on a position at the top of the workspace hierarchy and controls the flow of information. They don’t understand each employee’s role in the company’s purpose – only what they’re expected to produce. So employees don’t receive encouragement specific to their contribution when they achieve it.
However, a modern leader understands and appreciates every team member’s role. They derive authority from their people skills and innovative vision. They democratically share knowledge to encourage collaboration and see their organization as a team with a shared goal.
Lastly, consider the difference between a leader and a manager. All leaders can manage, but not all managers can lead. This is because managers focus on practicalities and processes, while leaders focus on inspiring, enthusing, and motivating others to achieve their potential.
Traditional management is crucial for a functioning business, but only great modern leadership will make it the best it can be.
What is Modern Leadership in the Workplace
So, how do you put the principles of modern leadership into practice? All modern leaders lead with four key ideas: clarity, well-being, sharing, and encouragement.
People are more passionate about their work if they understand their role in the purpose. The modern leader understands everyone’s role, what it involves, and how it contributes to the whole. They then share that information with each individual, connecting their work with the shared purpose.
A modern leader is aware of their team’s happiness and well-being. The opposite of hustle culture is wellness culture: this strategy encourages workers to take regular breaks and values a good work-life balance. Fostering a wellness culture is a distinctly modern leadership technique.
Remember, traditional bosses often create a power dynamic by withholding information. For example, managers can know sales figures, but designers can’t. This creates a hierarchy of knowledge that reinforces a top-down power structure. If designers get to know about sales figures, they can offer insights from their field that could improve sales long-term. Modern leaders are transparent. This creates a sense of inclusion, encourages teamwork, and inspires lateral thinking.
Encouragement isn’t just about saying, “well done.” Encouragement should be about communicating what success looks like; modern leaders know that every team member offers something different and has a different definition of success. By connecting your employees’ work with a clear, achievable outcome – and congratulating them on their contributions - you’ll motivate them to achieve. The growth of the modern leader has revolutionized the workspace. These kinder, more human leadership techniques democratize businesses and organizations' structure while bringing an end to harmful cultures. As you grow into a modern leader, your success is bound to grow too.