6 Tips for Being a Successful Leader in the 21st Century

Living and functioning in today’s globalized and fast-moving world is a challenge, but leading in this type of world is even more challenging.

Here are 6 tips for being a successful leader in the 21st century.

Speed of change

business changes

Being more flexible and adaptive are two key characteristics of a 21st-century leader; today’s business leaders must follow and react to market changes, develop new strategies for future growth and integration, and create new motivational systems and ethical morals inside the organization to inspire followers.

Have a clear strategy

business strategy

We live in a world where everything happens quickly and requires us to react instantly. But leaders shouldn’t always get caught up in the action-reaction cycle. Instead, they should freeze time inside the organization to focus on their strategic planning and define a clear vision of future goals and objectives. A leader who operates without a clear vision and a well-defined set of objectives for his followers will find it difficult to achieve any kind of lasting success.

Build trust

build trust

A relationship is a fancy keyword in today’s business models, frequently cited in such slogans as “our strength is in our team”. But it is true that strong relationships are indispensable to a flourishing business. Leaders have to make a serious effort to gain the trust of their followers, otherwise the lack of smooth and productive collaboration will seriously undermine their company.

Create certainty and stability

confident business woman

Political, economic, and social situations around the world in the 21st century are anything but stable, so the primary task of an excellent leader is to create certainty about the future and to persuade their teams that nothing bad is going to happen if they work as hard as they can.

Inspire and motivate

inspiring leader scaled

More than ever, leaders must understand the fundamental basis of motivation; an ideal leader can always create a motivational strategy based on the following factors:

  • who I am — a transformational or a transactional leader;
  • who my followers are – group A is motivated by extrinsic factors, whereas group B is motivated by intrinsic ones;
  • what I can offer – to meet the needs and wants of followers;
  • what they should offer me – setting goals;
  • how I will manage and delegate – choosing strategy. Leaders should understand the unique motivations of each individual within a team, and gain perfectly clear knowledge about the incentives that encourage each of them to accomplish the team’s goals.


focused person

So what is the advantage of the new (digital bottom-up pyramid) management model over its predecessor, the hierarchical management model? The digital bottom-up model allows leaders to gain the strength of “focus” – meaning that they’ll be focused on the essential factors that move their business forward.

Focused leaders understand that they can’t waste their time on micromanagement. Tracking their employees’ day-to-day activities is not for them. That’s because reaching new peaks of success requires the focused leader to stay concentrated on one crucial task: transforming their organization. It is the only way to anticipate and master the challenges of the future.

Remember: to become a focused leader, you have to adopt a new life-changing mission: to constantly work on transforming your organization’s processes to create new opportunities, increase value, and strengthen investment.

Be on the same page with your followers

However, please be aware that your success will not be complete unless you convince your workers to enthusiastically follow your transformation. To avoid that problem, you need to leverage their needs to create a more productive, harmonious workplace. (see point 3 above.) The new bottom-up management style shows you the way, as long as you are willing to learn one fundamental principle: that real leaders are on the same page with their followers — fighting for the same goals and objectives.

By respecting this principle, businesses will ensure that workplace issues like cultural diversity won’t create friction or conflict. This means that work teams will continue to maintain high productivity and achieve innovation. Since the bottom-up model encourages managers to practice “continuous learning”, they will be eager to learn from the cultural differences of their employees and develop a strategy for motivating them.

motivation image

What kind of strategies would a leader end up implementing? Culture-based motivational strategies. In some cultures, workers place more value on family benefits such as paid vacations or scholarships for children; employees from other cultures may prefer financial benefits instead.

Make rewards and motivation a priority

Those tips on dealing with cultural diversity expose a more general principle – namely that the time and effort invested in motivating workers pays off big time. Leaders should make rewards and motivation a priority by developing new approaches based on what their followers need. For instance, twenty years ago most employees weren’t even aware of benefits like fitness centre cards, but nowadays they are very common.

We may agree that motivating strategies are worth a leader’s time, but how do you actually go about developing such a strategy? One of the methods would involve something deceptively simple – attending social events. This is another piece of advice offered by the new management model.

To some business leaders, it may seem a bit silly to mingle with so-called subordinates, but there’s no better way to motivate a workforce than to actually understand who they are. 

understanding someone

Improve workflow and productivity

If you buy that logic, it goes without saying that it’s just as helpful for a leader to participate in team processes. As boring it may seem, eventually, it’ll give him some unexpected ideas on how to improve workflow and productivity. He’ll gain new insights on how existing work processes and environments could become a lot more efficient with the introduction of new technologies.  After all, one of the major challenges for today’s business leader is to make sure that his organization is run as efficiently as possible.

As you can see, a leader who stays on the same page with his followers is not only empowered to motivate them to perform better in the workplace, but also fortunate enough to figure out new ways to take his business to the cutting edge of technology. 

We’ve covered so much ground in this article, but we want to leave you with a summary that makes it all easy to remember.

So, to sum things up

The modern business environment requires a business leader to focus his attention on transforming his business to deal with the challenges of the future… but he also has to keep an eye on his workforce, because motivating them is a key ingredient in his recipe for success. The double challenge of transformation and motivation calls for a special kind of leader – a leader who is adaptive, open to challenges, responsive, flexible, and inspirational.

Success in the business world can’t happen without adapting to the changing winds of market trends, technology, and – surprisingly enough – the cultural shifts within your own workforce. 

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Lesya Lacko

Lesya Lacko

Successful Project Manager and Team Leader with more than 5 years of professional experience. I love everything connected with business, finances, and IT. I am not afraid to tell my opinion, and I love to hear yours back.
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