Sept. 17, 1787, is the date on which the United States Constitution was read and engrossed in final form at the constitutional convention. Benjamin Franklin, then 81 years old, was too frail to make a speech; but his written remarks were read aloud by his fellow-member of the Pennsylvania delegation, James Wilson. At the dawn of the 21st century, with Americans reflecting on first principles, Franklin’s guidance remains timely:
Serve to Lead is a practical manual–a Baedeker guide–for navigating the new world of 21st century leadership.
There’s much that’s new and different about leadership, management, and communication in the digital age.
There’s also significant continuity with earlier times.
One might say: the principles endure, the applications change.
What’s old and what’s new are both seen in the following list of 21st century leadership skills (one might as well have said 21st century leadership traits, but the term skills better conveys that leadership comprises capacities that can be learned, refined, cultivated, improved… and constantly updated to serve more effectively).
The list that follows attempts to capture enduring leadership lessons within the unique, fast-moving circumstances of the early 21st century.
Please share your views and share with others. Like everything today, it’s a work in progress, made better by collaborative input.
Where can we find them?
The premise–stated or unstated–is that there’s a leadership gap today.
Who can argue against the spectacular failures of leadership in large institutions? They range from the White House and Congress (whether in the hands of the Democrats or Republicans); to Wall Street and back around to Main Street; in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (including religious institutions); around the world.
It’s easy–perhaps too easy–to find reason for disappointment. And yet… there is also reason for optimism.
It’s often said that these are among the worst of times for leadership… it’s also, arguably, the best of times.
This list is updated quarterly. Please send your suggestions of other inspiring 21st century leaders.