The Future of “Leadership” (Do We Need a New Word For It?)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

While we are experiencing many global challenges, there is also a gradual global push toward better leadership.

There are many trends moving us toward a point where we clearly understand “leadership” to include good ethics and exclude any behavior that is purely self-serving or harmful to others. 

We have seen enough people making poor ethical decisions in the name of “leadership” to realize that we need to change something.  Some people may even think that things have gotten so bad that the term “leadership” should be replaced.

I disagree. Our understanding of what leadership means is evolving, so we shouldn’t throw out the word and replace it with a new one. We should continue the movement toward clearly re-defining it at a higher level.

What does redefining leadership at a higher level mean? 

  • When we say “leadership,” we will automatically include ethical responsibilities along with opportunities and benefits. 
  • When we say “leadership,” we will think “a privilege to serve” and not “a position of power.”
  • When we say “leadership,” we will think of the most humble, dedicated people who, working with others, try to leave the world better than they found it.

With this higher level understanding of leadership, we will never mistake a greedy, dishonest, fraudulent , harmful, toxic or care-less person who happens to have a title for a real leader. We will not be distracted by smoke and mirrors. We will look for substance and service. 

I am optimistic and I believe that this is the future of leadership. 

What do you think?  Are you ready to redefine leadership at a higher level? Are you ready to separate self-serving psuedo-leadership from real leadership?

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About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

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