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A Leadership Paradigm Shift For The New Normal

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A Leadership Paradigm Shift For The New Normal

Dr.Madana Kumar, VP and Global Head - Leadership Development, UST Global, 0

Dr. Madana Kumar, PhD, is an industry veteran with close to 4 decades of Industry Experience in organisations like Bharti, HCL, IBM etc.. He is a passionate student, thought leader and practitioner of Servant Leadership. His passion is in evangelizing Servant Leadership (a topic he chose for his Doctoral dissertation) in all types of organisations, including Corporates, Educational Institutions and Social Sector organisations.

We hear about “New Normal” a lot these days. COVID 19 has disrupted our lives and this has spawned a whole new set of studies and theories about what the future could hold for our lives. We cannot escape this even if we want to. As a student of Leadership, my question always is "How does Leadership matter" in this scenario? How does Leadership matter in the New Normal? John Maxwell gives a crisp but definitive answer to that question. "Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership," he says, and I agree.

So what type of leadership will the New Normal require? I am amazed by the response I get when I ask participants in the workshops to put down the first images that come to their minds when they hear the word Leadership. The responses show an innate deep desire in all human beings to see leadership as something good, leaders as people who do glorious things for their followers. This desire has only got stressed by the COVID-19 Pandemic that we are going through. My studies show that there are four specific tenets that drive a paradigm shift in Leadership in the New Normal.

1. Tenet No 1: The way Leaders use “Power” will change drastically: We cannot separate Leadership from Power. It is not, and it never was, the absence of power that distinguished admired leaders from poor leaders. It is how the leaders used the powers they had. The old normal of Power Elite, where power was concentrated on a few selected people like Capitalists, or Politicians or Military Leaders will not exist anymore in the New normal. The New Normal will shun the “Power over” syndrome to adapt to the “Power with” syndrome. The new Normal will promote Socialised Power as against Individualized power. Corporate honchos who use power only for profits cannot get many followers in the New Normal. Goodness will prevail over greed.

2. Tenet No 2: There has to be Higher Purpose that Leaders pursue beyond the achievement of objectives: COVID has made several people realise that there is a higher purpose to life and work. Hence the Old normal of a Leader seen as someone driving the team towards a
common aim will not suffice anymore. Followers will start looking for higher purposes in leadership. This will require inculcating several aspects of Spirituality into Leadership. They will demand altruism of leaders. It is not just about what goals we achieved; it is about how much help we provided to the needy, will become a key metric of leadership. Ethics will find its place at the heart of leadership in the New Normal. People will start looking for leaders with top levels of integrity.

3. Tenet No3: Leaders need to have and practice a set of Values: COVID has shown us the impact of our actions on others. We have seen several people suffering because of actions (or inactions) by one individual or a group of individuals. Hence people will look for significantly high value-systems in their leaders. It is not enough to be Charismatic or have magnificent vision. What values the leader holds and lives by will become very important. More importantly, there is a great desire to see values-inaction rather than just on posters.

We cannot separate leadership from power. It is not, and it never was, the absence of power that distinguished admired leaders from poor leaders. It is how the leaders used the powers they had


4. Tenet No 4: Leaders will have to stop chasing Success and pursue Significance instead: As given in the graphics here, we can see four types of people when we look from the perspective of Adding Value to Self and Adding Value to others. While the categories of people who lead a Life of Survival and a Life of Self-abasement are not encouraged in corporates, the Life of Success has been encouraged explicitly and implicitly. Successful people were adored and held in high esteem in the old normal. However, the New Normal is revealing the fact that “success” does not always include others. Successful people do not necessarily add value to others. So the new question that is being asked is not how much value you added to oneself, but how you have used those to add value to others. People are realizing more and more that Success brings in happiness, which is temporary, which is fleeting. Significance brings in Fulfilment which is lasting, even for a lifetime. Speaking in an organisational context, pursuing individual goals will be a passé, and achievement of team goals will become a norm. Many progressing organisations have already switched to rewarding team achievements rather than individual achievements.

So, the world is looking for a new Leadership Paradigm for the New Normal. Is there is Leadership Philosophy that meets all these four criteria? Fortunately for us, the answer is an affirmative “Yes”. Servant Leadership is the answer. Only Servant Leadership can satisfy the innate desire of every human being that Leadership must be for the good of others.

Come Embrace this Leadership Philosophy. Come Join the Servant Leadership Movement.

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