By Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel, Best Selling Author & Speaker, Bethel Institute
The winds of change are blowing across the globe. They demand a new
feeling of purpose, new actions and yet-unseen solutions. People everywhere
hunger for a new breed of authentic men and women who are physically strong,
mentally quick, politically limber, emotionally stable, intellectually superior
and unselfish consensus builders.
Truly great leaders of the 21st century will possess a strategic sense, an
inherent understanding of how the framework of their thinking and the tides of
time fit together and how their powers should be applied to achieve a larger
It is time to view the tried and true concepts of leadership through a new
filter and then update them. By combining the best leadership qualities of the
past with a set of new descriptors, measures and actions, we will begin to
change the huge disconnect that exists between our daily lives and our leaders
in business, government and other institutions.
The 21st Century Leadership Puzzle
There are eight qualities in the New Breed Leadership Puzzle. The value of each
piece lies in the tools it gives you to shape your personal leadership strength
and to reinforce your ability to serve others.
Competence Matters…Building Purpose
Competence is doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time and it
tops your list of leadership qualities that matter most. When you know what you
are doing, have the experience and knowledge to take risks and make wise
decisions, have a deep sense of purpose and a healthy dose of charisma, you can
lead people through beneficial actions into positive results. Living in a
constant state of innovation, where your competence is continually nurtured,
moves your dream into reality. When you recognize that competence begets
competence and that knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied, you’re saying, in
effect, to your followers, “We can learn and grow together.” You build a sense
of connectedness and a community of growth. When vision and purpose are backed
by competence, you can move mountains.
Accountability Matters…Fostering Trust
Very little in the realm of leadership is more important than the trust that
accountability generates. Leading is primarily about the relationship between
the leader and the led, and trust is at its core. It’s the contract you make
with your followers by holding yourself to account and then following up with
strong ethical actions. Your leadership deepens when followers know you’re
reliable and that you are a person on whom they can depend.
Accountability is about doing what’s right even when no one is looking. It is
the backbone of any successful entity and continually speaks to the integrity
and ethics of your organization and you as a leader. Whether you’re leading at
home, in the community or at work, even one example of accountability can set
others on the right road.
Openness Matters…Generating Integrity
Openness involves candor and frankness. Its most important byproduct, integrity,
is at the heart of earning the right to be called a leader. Integrity reveals
your true intentions and greatly affects your followers and your entire
organization because it reflects on everyone who is associated with you.
Transparent actions and policies are the currency by which you garner the
loyalty, commitment and willingness of your followers. When your words and
actions match, credibility cannot help but follow, and then you earn trust.
Being an open leader enables you to lift everyone and everything to a better
place because of the integrity it generates. It is vital for leaders at all
levels, in all sectors, across the globe to embrace a level of openness that
transforms ideas and processes, visions and strategies.
Language Matters...Connecting Relationships
The power to communicate is the key to forging productive relationships. Your
words inspire or discourage, hurt or help, divide or connect, cause fear or give
hope. String them together artistically and sensitively, and they become a
brilliant instrument by which you connect with your followers.
The impact of your skillful use of language cannot be exaggerated. You never
know whom you will touch with your words or how you will influence their lives.
Be assured that when you speak in aspirational language, you lift minds and
hearts. When you speak in clear, honest language, human bridges are built. When
you use your verbal expertise to reinforce the organization’s goals, values,
ideas and ideals in the minds and spirit of your followers, your communication
becomes an art form. You serve your followers best when your mission is
articulated by both what you say and what you do. Words really matter.
Values Matter…Forging Community
Your principles are like a fixed beacon giving direction and purpose to the
other seven qualities that matter most to a New Breed Leader. ‘Values’ is a
subtle, intangible and elusive quality with different meanings for different
people under different circumstances. You have values that give you a moral
compass. Most companies and organizations have a set of values that represent
them to their constituents. Even our communities have certain values that make
them different from a nearby town or city. Because of the enormous daily changes
and challenges it is a worthy and honorable process to closely examine these
values that influence you and your ‘communities.’ The authenticity you establish
from a renewed set of principles gives you the creditability to guide others as
they navigate the sometimes-daunting issues of our new century.
Perspective Matters…Establishing Balance
Now is time to fill your leadership toolbox with as much intellectual, emotional
and physical perspective as you can gather for your journey to the new horizons
of the future. Most importantly, when you have the counterpoint of past and
present to help you transition into the future; you are ready to be a New Breed
leader. Your fresh clear perspective and the balance it generates – yields a
sense of promise, a sense of a better life, and a sense of progress that builds
community and connectedness. As you learn from past failure, you are less likely
to make the same mistake again. When you gain insight from past success, you can
preserve your strengths and build on them. A real world, true-to-life
perspective gives you the staying power to handle the crush of daily events.
Power Matters…Mastering Influence
Power is the prime mover of people and events. You can’t lead effectively
without it. Great leaders do not shrink from power, nor do they seek it
unnecessarily. They know that having clout often intimidates others, so they use
their power judiciously. They ‘pull rank’ only in emergencies. It is about
influencing others to follow you, even when they don’t know where you are
headed. Those who make the greatest contribution will use power wisely. They
understand that the highest and best use of power is to direct others and help
them achieve their full potential.
Of all the examples you set as a leader, the wise use of humble power has the
most long term impact. If the basis of your desire for power is one of service,
then your leadership acquires an aura of dignity and your influence is increased
a thousand fold.
Humility Matters…Inspiring Authenticity
Humility, like leadership itself, it is earned, not claimed. The most humble and
effective leaders do not even think about taking steps to be humble. They just
‘are.’ Humility is a state of ‘being.’ Humility comes from deep within you. It’s
how you feel about your self, how you value others. It’s an attitude, philosophy
and a belief system that says, “The way for me to be the best leader possible is
to be the best servant to my followers.” Authentic leaders know that humility is
not weakness and arrogance is not strength. When a leader is humble, it is
usually because he or she scores high on emotional intelligence. Such leaders
are comfortable with themselves, without a need to constantly talk about
themselves or brag about what they have, what they do or who they know.
Transcendent Challenges of 21st-Century Leadership
It is a time of transcendence, a time of limitless possibilities. No generation
of leaders, at every level of society and across the globe, has had such an
opportunity to solve our greatest problems and bring all peoples together to
work and live in a safe and harmonious planet. You can stand up and be counted
as one who will do his or her part and knowing that in combination with millions
of other leaders, you’ll leave deep footprints forming a global path to a better
world for all the generations that follow.
Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel, global leadership expert and best
selling author of the new book, “A New Breed Of Leader, 8 Leadership Qualities
Matter Most In The Real World, What Works, What Doesn’t and Why” holds a Ph. D.
in Communications and has served on the adjunct faculty of Indiana Purdue
University, San Francisco State University and the University of Southern
California. She currently serves as a member of the Advisory Council for Amsted
University based in Malaysia. Sheila is a widely published author with four
books translated into several languages. She has written over 150 articles and
produced 30 audio/video training programs. Sheila is a creator and host of two
National Public Television Specials, Making a Difference. She has worked on
projects with four US Presidents and was appointed to the Board of Advisors for
America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth, by Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell, who is the Founding Chairman. Sheila is also a member of the Speaker
Hall of Fame and has been recognized as one of the ‘Twenty-one Top Speakers for
the 21st Century,’ by Successful Meetings Magazine. For article feedback, please
contact Sheila at