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Workforce Behavioral Shift & Leadership Style for the 21st Century

The world is changing all the time. Paradigm shift is a phenomenon that occurs throughout human history. This 21st century marks yet another great paradigm shift that involves increasingly more technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) than it ever did in the past.

For humanity, this means an increasing integration of technology into everyday life functions, whether we are aware of it or not. At a behavioral level, technology has influenced the way we interact with one another. Collectively, this presents a great behavioral shift in the 21st century.

In light of this behavioral shift, leadership styles may also have to adapt to suit the changing landscape of the workforce and talents better. Today, workforces are becoming more and more assimilated with technology and digitally influenced. The traditional leadership style that emphasizes one-way and top-down communication may not be the most effective leadership style in the realm of workforce management in the 21st century.

The progressive development and advancement of technology that occur in a relatively fast-paced manner, may require that businesses are adaptive to these changes, including being responsive to any surfaced issues that come with technological deployment and human-computer interactions. Traditional one-way communication may not be sufficient to keep up with this fast-paced environment that sometimes requires immediate actions, which can result in businesses losing out on their competitiveness over more adaptive peers, in critical cases.

The increasing workforce among Generation Z, the people who got exposed to technology and the internet since their early days, presented a workforce population with a skewed distribution for digital savviness and technological competency, to that of their different-generation counterparts. Here, the two-way communicational system that facilitates equal communication between the supervisors, who are largely the people before Generation Z, and the employees who are Generation Z today, can be an effective way to understand the underlying technical issues faced first-hand by the frontline employees that serve as hidden business costs that remain unaware by top management. The awareness of these hidden costs thus allows the decision-makers to take appropriate actions to resolve these impediments promptly, hence retaining the business's competitiveness in the industry. 

This is where Servant Leadership comes in in the 21st-century digital climate. Servant Leadership is a leadership style that enforces authenticity, ethical guidelines, and employee empowerment. The ultimate end-product of Servant Leadership is unleashed creativity in the workforce. In practice, Servant Leadership involves being an empathic listener who understands the needs and pain points of subordinates and takes appropriate actions to address these pain points. It also means being a leader who puts the employees first by serving them and empowering them for their hidden talents to unlock employees’ full potential, for one to truly thrive. The Servant Leadership style believes that there is more in a person than just a mere employee performing mere tasks. Servant leadership operates on the basis that everyone has something valuable to contribute and as a servant leader you must be able to recognize and unleash that in your people. 

For businesses, effective Servant Leadership is translated into increased trust and creativity, the key foundations to a sustainable innovative culture that fosters a constant expression and sharing of new ideas, and reinforces honest feedback to unveil business issues, thus effective resolution to reduce costs. Without trust, subordinates will withhold information and become less honest in their feedback, deviating supervisors and authorities from truly recognizing the actual underlying problems, which delays the process of effective resolution, resulting in time costs that can put businesses behind the competition, for industries that operate on fast response and have critical impact to wider stakeholders on a large scale. Servant Leadership aims to minimize these unfavorable scenarios through the reinforcement of authenticity, transparency, and trust, that first demonstrated by the leaders to their people.

As a result, Servant Leadership may be a more suitable leadership style of the 21st century than the traditional leadership style, where creativity and trust are keys to sustainable innovation that gives businesses a strong competitive advantage over other players who assimilate innovation only on a macro level. Servant Leadership style aims to stimulate innovation from the micro workforce point of view, which can serve as a more cost-effective approach to sustainable innovation than mere integrations of expensive external tools to the current workflow since it is the people behind these tools who unleash the potential of the tools in producing innovative and effective output to the company. 

The early career professionals who are largely Generation Z today, always possess new ideas and novel perspectives. Leaders who exercise Servant Leadership principles can unveil this hidden creativity and harvest new ideas for corporate innovation, whereby more senior counterparts who are largely the people before Generation Z can exercise their rich experience for a thorough assessment of idea realism, on the business operation or projects. This is how intergenerational workforce can work in cohesion towards a corporate sustainable innovation, which helps to retain business competitiveness amidst the 21st-century digital climate.          

There is more to Servant Leadership than what is mentioned. Contact OnlyVenture Consulting today for more information on Servant Leadership, including initial consultation or casual discussion to see if Servant Leadership can benefit your company. Receive exclusive executive training from the true Servant Leader, for you to take charge of your corporate success through innovation for the 21st century. 

Our training is open to all no matter where you are in the world. Contact us today to enroll in the Servant Leadership Executive Program. 

Article by Nichanan Supunya, GenZ and Associate Consultant at OnlyVenture Consulting

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