AWARE Articles

The 24-point Pledge (Oath) of the 21st Century Leader

02 Feb 2011


·         Big picture/dream.  Leaders dare to dream and leaders NEVER lose sight of the bigger picture. In other words, they keep their eye on the prize. They have an expansive view and those leaders whom I’ve found impeccable in their work are the ones who trusted time is on their side and that their work can only evolve through experience, falling and even failing at times. They trust that obstacles lead to opportunities and that challenge leads to evolution and growth.


·         Design an alliance. Leaders design an alliance with everybody they meet. They believe in understanding others’ point-of-view even if they are not in agreement. Leaders are not trying to prove they are right.  In other words, leaders inspire teamwork rather than competition among their teams.


·         Articulated plan. Leaders have a plan, know their plan and share their plan so everybody can be on board. Leaders realize their plan man change but they follow the same steps of having a “new” plan, knowing their plan and sharing their plan and then following their plan.


·         Approachable/personal touch. In other words, world-class 21st Century Leaders are humble. While they possess tremendous confidence, they don’t think so highly of themselves that they are untouchable. In fact, they are extremely accessible.


   *         An expressed personal why.  I once worked with somebody who specifically hired me to shadow-coach him, if you will, meaning I’d shadow him and advise him from an outside consultant’s point-of-view on what was working and what wasn’t.  In just a few weeks’ time and after several meetings with both his esteemed staff or privately with him, I could see there were some glaring issues. He knew what HE wanted and while he was a great networker and had several supporters, he refused to share what his vision was with his staff and as a result. As a result, staff were frustrated ; they had no direction and literally did not know what to do!  When I asked what his vision was and how and when he wanted to achieve it, he could not answer the question. So, I got to work: I began to ask a series of provocative and poignant questions and in 15 minutes, we had his strategic objective mapped out.  While it seemed we were on a roll, sadly we weren’t. Sadly, he still refused to share his vision with his staff and well, you can imagine the rest. Leaders who effectively communicate the why of what they are doing to those working with them to achieve their mission ultimately lead successful teams and thus, yield phenomenal results and experience success. Everybody is on board and wants to help them achieve their personal mission. Leaders are very, very clear on their personal “why;” every step of the way, they ask if what they and their team are doing are in furtherance of their overall mission and vision. In the past, oftentimes leaders have shied away from informing of what their missions and objectives are either out of paranoia and fear but more than that; generally, if a leader has an ethical personal why or mission, it should be celebrated and there should be a strong desire to want to communicate it.


·         Move from potential to actual. True leaders get things done, they don’t stand in what could be, instead they stand in what actually is. They believe in being realized and actualized rather than buying solely into their potential. They transfer this belief to their teams or if they run a nation, they transfer this energy to their nation’s people.


·         L.A.C.K. Leaders feed into the L.A.C.K. concept: they operate from Love, Acceptance, Compassion and Kindness, respect humanity and the human spirit.


·         Giver’s gain mentality. True leaders give for the sake of giving without expecting in return.


·         Focus on service. 21st Century Leaders come from a service perspective. They ask how they can be of service to their country, to their people, to their teams, and so on.  In other words, they’re not too big for their britches to roll their sleeves up and get dirty once in awhile.


 ·         Model perfect. Leaders know they must walk their talk and practice what they preach. They honor their own words and motives by literally living out their personal message. They realize that through their very essence and being, they are modeling for those around them.


·         Transparency. Leaders really understand and value true transparency. Transparency is a commitment to authenticity; it is not some trend-setting show-case word they use, they actually believe in it


·         Authentic, active, effective communication. Those leaders I’ve interviewed across the globe I consider to be 21st century leaders were firmly grounded in sincere, genuine, real, raw and organic communication. They were not overly-concerned with painting the pretty picture, instead, they spoke the truth, were engaged with their audience, and effectively communicated because they weren’t wrapped in their Egos and what everybody else thought of them.



·         Swift decision-maker and problem solver (rather than problem-creator). 21st Century Leadership means making oftentimes difficult decisions but making them indeed and trusting or having a faith that what is meant to be will be. This, however, does not mean that 21st Century Leadership involves bullying or bulldozing of any kind.


·         Exceed expectations. 21st Century Leaders increase their own goals, they up the ante and challenge themselves to constantly improve.


·         Follow-up and follow-through. As an international journalist, it was often difficult to solidify interviews and get appointments with top dogs especially in a short time frame. I often waited months and months and sometimes did not end up with the interview but those top officials who of course were extremely busy were the ones who always followed-up and followed-through even if they could not make an interview with me. I respected they had busy schedules but they were still not too busy to acknowledge I was a human being to them and that they had heard my request even if they could not meet it.


·         Relentless Persistence. 21st Century Leaders value their mission and don’t take “no” for an answer. They keep knocking down every door until they get want they want and need for their mission to be accomplished. They see human beings as human beings, not above them or below them. They seem them as equals, honor them as such and remain confidently persistent in the course of difficult tasks and challenges.



 ·         Inspiration vs. Desperation. The 21st Century Leader must operate from inspired thought and action rather than desperation. When we come from desperation (which often looks like anxiety, preoccupation, worry, or fear), we often make decisions that are not rooted in L.A.C.K. and as a result we have extremely negative consequences.


·         Accountability. True leaders never shirk responsibility. They own up to their missed steps and missed takes and then remember to always learn from the errors.


·         Not scared to make mistakes.  21st Century Leaders realize their errors are what actually often lead them to the bona fide solution.


·         Willing to try new things on for size. While leaders may have somewhat of a plan, they realize the plan does not need to be a straight path. Confident leaders realize the path can be windy, curved, jagged, etc. but they insist on getting to the destination rather than the actual way they get there. 21st Century Leaders make adjustments and are flexible.


·         Detached from the outcome. Leaders act regardless of potential outcomes. They realize outcomes may arrive differently than expected but don’t hold onto how they wanted it to result; rather they trust the outcome was meant to be as was and know they can make adjustments accordingly. Another way of saying this, they act in spite of…they act despite…they are honest and don’t hold back their feelings but operate from good intentions and not mal-intention.


·         Creating a legacy. According to Wiktionary and, a legacy is something handed down from a predecessor, or something that is inherited, a heritage.  A 21st century leader is therefore is vested in building a solid foundation to pass down to those that follow him/her.  A 21st Century continuously asks, “How do I wish to be remembered? What legacy do I wish to leave?”


·         Rewards, praise, and high-fives. True leaders acknowledge others for a job well done. They understand for instance, their staff or team are an extension of them and by keeping their “people” happy through ongoing positive reinforcement and recognition, employees want to continue to do amazing work and are in fact, more productive.


·         Give credit where credit is due and to whom the credit is due when the credit is due. True leaders give credit (rather than steal it) to whom deserves the credit.  Leaders share the credit; they see no need in taking it all as they have confidence in their abilities AND the abilities of others.




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