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The future of leadership for generations Y and Z executives

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There are several forces moving forward toward a new leadership model and style in the decades ahead. One is that the relationship between leader and implementer (follower) is becoming closer and closer while pursuing team objectives. Mutual trust and respect, common values with frequent communication are becoming more common. This trend will continue beyond today. Can you speculate on what you see ahead?

The other significant force is that though there’s less religious affiliation among Generations Y and Z; members of both tend to describe themselves as spiritual. This typically means they have a set of higher-order values that govern their behavior. I have seen these trends firsthand as a coach.

These forces, together with the re-emergence of servant leadership as a significant model for Generation Y executives to favor in preparing future leaders, are the beginnings of a sea change in leadership. The newest model, described as spiritual leadership, is slowly emerging. You see glimpses of it today with behavior such as concern for each other, greater dialog, greater patience, courage and collaboration when meeting common objectives.

Here are some additional steps occurring today. Research on the relationship between leaders and implementers is growing and evolving. It opens the leadership process to a meaningful dialog of the importance of values in this relationship to both leaders and implementers. It shows how leader values of persistence, humility, patience, forgiveness and being a resource to each other operate in the circumstances they face. Openness and alignment with their leader is also very evident on the part of implementers.

As the relationship between leader and implementer draws closer with frequent dialog, shared goals and values, a deeper appreciation of each other’s contribution to common objectives, emerges. This supports the development of each other’s character and sense of worth and contribution to each business objective.

These are the humanistic qualities people indicate are important for leaders to imitate. They include, personal and organizational integrity, humility, gratitude and forgiveness. They are cited as major qualities from recent surveys. This finding serves as a base for many leadership models such as the transformational, authentic, situational and behavioral leadership. Are there other models that can capture the imagination the and desire for learning and meaning?

Jim Collins, with his Stage 5 leadership rooted in humility, brought leadership studies to the closest point toward spiritual leadership. Focused on social and business results, spiritual leadership deals with inequality, participative values, collaboration as an on-going process, building stronger organizations, and greater access to education both within a company and outside.

The rise of young Generation Y managers, and their appreciation of spiritual values, contributes to the emergence of spiritual leadership. Spiritual sensitivity fits a characteristic of members of this generation, who appreciate the values of humility, cooperation, resilience, forgiveness, mutual respect and support for each other. Character development and sensitivity to each other’s success will further define leadership in the near future as the spiritual side of leadership gains traction.

There is agreement regarding the positive effects of working with a leader of good character. How does spiritual leadership contribute additional qualities and values? The qualities include: Honesty, integrity, courage and compassion. Spiritual leadership may well be the fresh, innovative model, above others, to integrate character values with implementer expectations in the years ahead.

Spiritual leadership will benefit leaders when addressing the cultural and ethical challenges they face today and improve results for both leaders and implementers tomorrow. There’s more to be done to confirm this. Early investigations are promising. A significant and innovative transformation and corrections will occur continuously from now through to leadership in 2035.

Bob Vecchiotti is a business adviser and coach. He can be reached at or 924-2012.

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