“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

John Quincy Adams

In honor of President’s Day, it’s time to look at changing leadership styles, currently undergoing significant change. Philosophies advance with technology to shift things into a brave new world of how we get things done.

From authoritative to participative . .

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

For much of the 20th century we’ve been taught about top-down management. The boss knows what’s best; just do what he tells you. Theory X assumed workers need wiser superiors to direct them or they just stumble around in the dark. With prosperity driven by technology, more workers shift from manual labor to white collar. Theory Y made room for workers who think for themselves, guiding companies to behave more like committees.

Enter “participative management” and the rise of teams . .

Soon managers found a center ground in “participative management” where they make decisions, but consult with staff. Everybody felt more a part, but superiors were used to the directive approach, and couldn’t change overnight. Work teams rose up requiring “team leaders” who could be anyone in the team. That’s when leadership concepts began to trickle down the hierarchy.

With Generation X comes “self-leadership” . .

Newer generations of workers—X and Millennium, for example—are increasingly independent. Those born later could be even worse. They prefer Internet interactions over the face-to-face. In many ways this is like our early pioneers, real trailblazers who didn’t need anyone to manage them. The same spirit prevails again.

Soon leaders will rarely see staff. A growing portion of the working population will be working from home, maybe 40% by 2020. [Herman Group]

Leadership style changes keep coming . .

With rising self-determination, leaders now spend more time envisioning the bigger picture, then assigning workers to tasks, in what might be called “coordinative leadership” Less directive and more supportive important skills become networking, sourcing, persuading, and negotiating. Then comes “collaborative leadership” . . Okay, we get the picture.

Technology both drives, and makes possible, the change . .

As daunting as all this dimensional change in work may be to older generations, newer ones are growing up with all the digital technology that facilitates the change. Handheld devices and ubiquitous Internet access help pave the way.

What smart technology traits do the leaders that you admire use?  Dedicated apps, wireless presenters, health trackers?

Mount Rushmore National Memorial