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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 17, 2019 1:00 am

Various roles required to be modern leader

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Good listeners and strategic thinkers are valued. But the modern-day leader will need more than the traditional attributes.

Organizations might be looking for digital innovators, value-driven strategists, growth catalysts and analytic risk takers.

Kelly Bean, president of Darden Executive Education, calls those frontier roles.

In an age of “technological disruption” and fast-paced growth, organizations will have to think about how leadership roles will change, Bean said last month. Her comments came during a Chief Learning Officer webinar titled “What it Takes to be a Modern Global Leader.”

Darden is part of the business school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Bean said researchers talked to professionals and managers in about 150 diverse organizations to develop a description of what a successful leader might look like. Essentially, they'll have to play a variety of roles.

The digital innovator will be able to leverage technology developments to “navigate and integrate” business models.

A value-driven strategist will have a clear understanding and “relentless focus” on creating and delivering value for all stakeholders.

A growth catalyst will accelerate the adoption of strategic ideas, staying ahead of the competition.

And an analytic risk taker will use the power and insight from data and research, balancing it with intuition and decision-making skills, setting clear direction.

Sounds simple, right? But there's more.

The modern leader will also be expected to be an empathetic facilitator who engages and incorporates input from a diverse group and a continuous learner. And you can add change activist and active collaborator to the expected leadership roles.

There are “different ways you may have to show up as a leader,” Bean said, during the January webinar facilitated by Nicola Barrett, managing director of Darden Executive Education.

“Growth happens when we're challenged,” Bean said. 

What made teams successful in the past may not be what it takes in the future, so the continuous learner role is especially crucial. And collaboration will require leaders who can connect and communicate to individuals, regardless of the generation they represent.

What Bean and Barrett called “executive development 2.0” won't happen overnight. It won't happen in a half a day or a day.

“We're lucky if we get awareness,” Bean said. “Development really happens over a period of time – a journey, so to speak.”

It starts with conversations and reflections about where you are and where you want to go.

'Soul of a Team'

Although Tony Dungy is no longer coaching in the National Football League, he's still leading. The former Indianapolis Colts coach in January released his latest book, “The Soul of a Team:  A Modern-Day Fable for Winning Teamwork.”

The book explores how a fledgling organization can get on track through a fable centered on a team called the Orlando Vipers, coached by a friend of Dungy. While the story is told through football analogies, the principles can apply to most any group.

“When a team isn't functioning efficiently, individual strengths can be undermined and weaknesses accentuated, leading to conflict, underperformance, and an unpleasant work environment,” the book says. “When teams are functioning well, however, everyone benefits, not only in terms of games won, quotas met, or profits accumulated, but also through deeper personal relationships, stronger mentor leadership, individual growth and long-term sustainability.”

Dungy, an NBC football analyst, is also the author of “The Mentor Leader” and “Quiet Strength.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at