4 Immutable truths of modern leadership

Contributed by Erik Kruger, founder of Modern Breed, an international learning and development firm cultivating a new breed of leaders and teams. As a speaker, writer and thinking partner for entrepreneurs and business leaders, Erik shared his expertise with Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) members during learning events about the future of leadership

The ground is shifting beneath your feet. Suddenly rules that guided you yesterday have no bearing on how you navigate today.

Yet, there are laws of leadership that will guide you reliably no matter what is happening around you―immutable truths that will always strengthen your leadership abilities amidst even the greatest challenges.

I want to share four such truths.

1. In leadership we trust

“Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.” ―David Armistead

Can you imagine a time in the future when trust will not be essential for great leadership? I cannot fathom what such a scenario would look like. On the contrary, trust grows ever more critical in a world divided by fake news, abuses of power, and the distribution of the workforce.

The “trust fall” is a team-building exercise in which you fall backward and trust another person to “catch” you. The exercise is often mocked, yet thanks to the uncertainty around us, we are looking more than ever for people who will catch us―people who will have our backs.

Do not miss the opportunity to catch the digital trust falls of your people.

2. Develop personal adaptability

Every leader will tell you about the importance of being flexible in your approach to goals. But few can demonstrate that same approach in their lives, even less in their businesses. It’s not their fault. They are humans, and humans get deeply and irrationally attached to things.

There are many ways to cultivate adaptability. One of the best is to practice quitting the things that no longer make sense, and doing so in a reasonable amount of time.

For example, if you want to adapt to remote working, then you must quit your romantic notions of working from the office. The longer you stay attached to working from a centralized location, the longer you will procrastinate on learning the skills required for effective remote working.

3. Invest in and develop your team

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, believes that “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

There is only one way that you stand a chance against the complex challenges that you are facing. That is through the combined effort of a strong, cohesive team—a team in which each team member is pushing themselves to be better and is receiving the support to do so.

This means developing the skill of teamwork within individuals alongside other vital skills such as empathy, leadership and resilience.

4. Share your vivid vision of the future

Steve Jobs famously managed to persuade John Sculley to move from PepsiCo to Apple to become CEO by asking him whether he wanted to spend the rest of his life selling sugar water or changing the world.

Whether you call it a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), or a just cause, or a compelling vision of the future, one thing is certain: You must inspire people with a vision they can rally around. This is non-negotiable if you want to motivate a team to achieve something meaningful.

But it’s not enough to have a vivid vision of the future. You must also be able to communicate that vision with energy and enthusiasm to the people in your business.

There is a reason why storytelling in business has become such a rapidly growing niche: People love a good story, and if you tell the right story, people will follow you to the ends of the earth to bring it to fruition.

Some things never change

Jeff Bezos once said, “I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is the more important of the two―because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”

There are so many things changing in leadership right now that it can feel overwhelming. Try your best to remember that although the ground is shifting beneath your feet, you can rely on these immutable truths to keep your balance.