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The Evolution of Leadership

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By Vijay Khatnani, Managing Partner, J2 Solutions

There are countless articles on Leadership and how to be a better Leader in today’s rapidly evolving tech space. Is Leadership itself evolving at a similar pace? What has changed? In order to dive a little deeper into the subject, let’s take a look at how far we’ve come.

To say that the Leadership has dramatically changed since, say, the Industrial Revolution would be an understatement. We’re miles away from the work conditions, salaries, and the relationship between management and worker; managing that led to little innovation within this new industrialized space. What was once a time of enforcing strict obedience and little communication is now a time of innovation and collaboration.

If you think of Leadership in the Ford era, there was little to no collaboration during the work day. Leadership was one way: “I tell you what to do and you do it.” What was expected of you was told to you, in person, face to face. Communication in the workplace was management dictating all aspects of a workers’ day on the job until they were sent home. Once you punched out for the day, there was no way your boss could get to you, or you to him. There simply was no communication after your work day was done. Today, the line of communication has changed.

In the digital age, there are now several ways to communicate with your employees, stake-holders, investors, or even employers. You hope that you’ve set clear boundaries about when you’d like to be contacted or whether you’d like to be contacted at all after work hours, but sometimes, (or often depending on your work culture) you might just find an email or text waiting for a prompt reply at eight o’clock when you’ve sat down to eat dinner with your family. Just like that, the weight of your boss can be felt at a distance.

However, if you’re a leader with clear communication, who has built a culture of creative collaboration at your company, your team will feel empowered and productive. Feeling intimidated by your boss is a thing of the past.  Leadership has shifted from authoritarian to servant-led. Instead of barking orders, great leaders are listening to the needs and ideas of their team members. It’s the leaders who put in the time to build relationships and construct environments where employees are valued that are reaping the benefits of new technologies, management software, and a more digital workplace experience.

Digital innovation has driven the evolvement of communication in ways that allow organizations to better harness the full potential of their teams. Collaborative environments are not only allowing organizations to grow and thrive, but they allow individuals to take ownership of tasks and projects.

When asked to reflect on the leadership qualities and culture we create here at J2, I redirected the question to someone who could provide a different perspective. As a managing partner and co-founder, I’m aware that perhaps I may see J2 differently than my employees do and am open to the feedback, criticism and new perspectives.

When our Office Administrator Abbey was asked about leadership at J2, she said “The collaborative and empathetic nature of each employee here has really helped me feel comfortable as I continue to gain my footing in a brand-new career and career field. Whether I’m working with our VP of Sales, Andy to help him develop a new sale tracking method or helping our Recruiting Manager, Duncan format a prospective consultant’s resume, I feel supported and comfortable in both suggesting new ideas to better the company and in making mistakes. The amount of consideration and empathy that each employee at J2 has for their colleagues is what pushes me to meet and hopefully exceed expectations.”

This is exactly the kind of feedback that motivates me daily. It’s important for teams to be heard, internally and externally. When you have trust in the talented team of experts you’ve assembled, your organization functions better as a whole. When we all put our heads together, with strong leadership at the front, we are more effective and can evolve if the marketplace demands it.

What does your team think of the leaders you have in place? What do they say about your extended team of partners? Maybe you should ask. This style of leadership will certainly lead your business into a better future.