Leadership evolution : Tribes of Tomorrow

God created the world. Man evolved the world to make it a better place to live for Human Beings. The first requirement of evolution was survival in the world of dinosaurs and 8.7 million other species. Human race could survive because it came together and fought back against all odds world posed on humanity. Initial leaders evolved as head of tribes. These leaders fought the visible threats from animals in the local area and provided safety to their tribes. Tribe members respected them, listened to them, supported them to expect security in return.
As generations passed by, heirs of yesteryear leaders found respect was not enough. Brave and logical were trying to make their way to replace them. Hence God was created as a supernatural power. Priest represented God. Heirs supported God as they found it to be an easy option to align people. Where logic and respect do not work, faith and fear do a wonderful job there. As God was a powerful tool, multiple Gods and multiple faiths got created with different interpretations as per the needs of the respective tribes.
As the tribes developed and expanded, the issue of resource crunch became a glaring reality. Tribes started fighting with each other. The leaders who were providing security from animals were now to provide security from other tribes as well. War leaders evolved and power game claimed multiple lives. However it did not take long for mankind to figure out that problem is shortage of resources. Control is a secondary issue. Civilizations evolved in the shape of kingdoms. Collaboration, systems and innovation improved the resource situation. Tribes came together to accept a common leader who will protect the tribe and put the systems to improve resource situation. Many kingdoms used Gods and faiths as common threads to bind people from various tribes together as part of one kingdom.
Kingdoms solved the problem for tribes. As the kingdoms expanded, shortage of resources resulted in bigger battles and wars. This was the same issue of tribes. Each kingdom wanted to have control over its resources and did not want to share. Integration of kingdoms was the ultimate solution. World saw conqueror leaders who tried to put multiple kingdoms under one umbrella.
While world conquering efforts were underway, Trade evolved as middle path to exchange resources. Traders were business men who started making money by leveraging and connecting economies. As they saw benefits in economies of scale, they encouraged mass production of resources which led to innovation and industrialization. Traders slowly evolved as global organizations. This transformation impacted kingdoms and transformed kingdoms into economies.
Till now world was fighting over resources and visible threats. Countries faced threat from invisible deadly microorganisms and viruses which almost eradicated humans from the face of the earth. Another anticipated invisible threat was unknown aliens from the space. Entire world came together to put new governance mechanisms to jointly work towards all visible and invisible threats. World bodies on Health, Governance, Environment, Development, and Space came into existence to focus on respective areas of threat.
As world came together to fight the invisible, Collaborative approach, liberalization and investments gave boost to technological development. World created methods of collaborating, connecting and sharing. A virtual world got created where communication is faster, knowledge is available, physical distances and boundaries do not matter. The virtual world changed the lives and life styles of people. Ease, options, knowledge, sharing, cross cultural understanding, approachability has changed the view of people towards the world. This new world requires a different set of leadership characteristics.
People who want to be a leader in this age start with a race of increasing number of followers in the digital world. Digital world followers are smart and need a follow back. Problem is that no one wants to be lead; everyone wants to be a leader. Since environment has encouraged human beings have become more knowledgeable and aware. They get multiple options for deciding the configuration of their pizza. Hence they want choices everywhere. Hence competition of being a leader has increased.
However basic fundamentals of leadership are often misinterpreted in context of digital world. Most common myth is that Leaders become leaders because of followers. In reality, Leaders do not need followers. Leaders are leaders because they work towards a purpose. The passion and commitment brought in by leader towards the purpose create a compelling reason for people to join the momentum. People join leaders for cause. Strength of followers is just a measure of quality of purpose, passion and commitment of the leader. Hence as a leader one must not search for followers, one should try to find a purpose to which one can commit oneself.
Another myth is that Leaders require excellent communication. Leaders just need to connect with the people who believe in the same purpose. Language and communication is just one mean of connecting with people. Communication helps at times but more important aspect is action. Actions work better than communication. Followers are more comfortable and connected with leader when leader talks less and does more.
Leadership does not come with position. Position just gives power to execute things. Position at times makes it easy for leader to execute certain things and improves chances of success. Visioning is another important competence which helps leader to improve chances of success and helps in aligning people to the big common objective.
Digital age leaders need to practice softer aspects more than ever before. As world is becoming more aware, people have starting interpreting things with logic. Boundaries created by countries, regions and religions are fading out. Mutual respect is gaining more ground. Leaders with strong human values have a better chance of succeeding in the digital world.
We often think that leadership in corporate is different from the leadership required in the society. In fact leadership in organizational setting is much easier as corporate leadership gives a safe conducive environment, which generally comes with a position. Visioning and value system also does not take a toll as leader just has to imbibe the organization vision and values. The only aspect organizational leaders have to focus on is to imbibe the vision and values of the organization, define a purpose for oneself and passionately work towards fulfilling the purpose. Followers will not take time to bring the best out of you as a Leader.

www.harjeetkhanduja.com by Harjeet Khanduja publishes HR relevant topics in layman language and redefines conventional concepts in current context without making HR too technical or complicated.

Leadership Redefined is published in People and Management in Sep 2013.