Most people would be aware of the push to find either the methodology or the elements of leadership today. There are many paths that have and are being explored all their merits and deficiencies examined in the hope that perhaps one will provide the answer for how we lead today and into the future.
The challenges that face us are our ability to create structures in an environment where many variable conditions exist principally connected to rapid change. As has been mentioned many times before we have always encountered change and this will be the case forevermore. What is different about the period in the last 10 to 15 years is the rate and amount that has occurred and has affected the way we work and live. It is clearly evident that we are still coming to terms how we treat this moving canvass situation which now exists, without any definitive conclusions to date being established.
If we study the period above several major events have combined to create an environment which represents a major diversion from the past including the spread of globalisation, technical digital advances, terrorism, social communication, political standing and economic financial collapses.
Collectively these events have contributed one way or another too how we operate and think in our daily lives, this challenges the notion of leadership in several fields such as business, politics and community and how to adapt. One could add an increasingly degree of social discourse around the issue of trust and how we are lead.
So apart from usual aspects of perceived leadership and managing skills that a person should possess what other tools should be invaluable? They could be classed around a grouping of skills around the term Awareness.
The ability of any leader will be a major factor in his or her success in leading an organisation during this period of almost relentless change.

They include:
World events
Whilst not advocating that leaders and managers should possess a high level knowledge of world events it would be an advantage to keep abreast and up-to-date as to determine how if this may affect their areas of responsibility in order that he or she can communicate with people in their respective teams of any implications that may be questioned.
Local & Overseas
What are the key drivers in your particular market and industry, discovering and identifying trends that could change your business?

Understanding the National “Mood”
Assessing what is the national mood of the population can have implications the way a person approaches leadership strategy. E.g. In Australia we seem to be experiencing a drop in confidence including very low engagement in the workplace together with disenchantment with our politicians across the spectrum ( This of course at this time seems to be a Western society problem)Rebuilding and maintaining trust being the key requirements within organisations and institutions.
Picking the mood of your people and adapting to emerging sentiments.
A good leader or manager will be tuned in to the morale and mood of his or her people that is how internal and external events are greeted. It is vital they have their respective receptors and antennas on to determine current and possible future changes. The advent of social media has encouraged a wide range of diverse opinions which came either stimulate debate and discussion alternatively can promote distraction and misdirected erroneous messages. Challenges to authority are becoming a feature of ever day life and leaders need the tools to tackle such approaches.
Transition to Generational Change
For the more mature leader or manager is the ability to recognise that perhaps methodologies used previously are today not appropriate such as “direct and control” and this will not appeal to younger colleagues and staff. (This not necessarily easy to do but the reality this is the trend).Consultation cannot be sidelined in today’s environment.

The issue of awareness falls into the ongoing debate about “hard” and “soft” issues in leadership and the balance they both hold in their effectiveness. Given the feedback that is constantly being received that balance is now turning in favour of alternative ways to lead with awareness playing a major part.

Ken Wood
People Specialist
17th August 2015