What Makes a Modern Leader?

What Makes a Modern Leader?

It’s that time of year again—the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and people are dressing up to sit outside and watch their friends and family receive hard-won and well-earned diplomas. For this year’s CPS commencement ceremonies, the keynote speaker was Karen Kaplan, CEO of the Hill Holliday advertising agency.

Ms. Kaplan’s speech posed the question, “What makes a modern leader?”–a topic that’s relevant to all of us, no matter what educational path we’ve taken or might still choose. Here are a few of the answers she gave:

  • Modern leaders are values-based. Their values are the filter through which they view decisions and determine the right action to take, whether in business or in their personal lives.
  • For modern leaders, the goal is not to get their idea adopted. It is to get to the best ideas. Modern leaders invest time in consultation. They pull together those who will be affected by a decision and those who will have to implement the solution.
  • Modern leaders are collaborative and inclusive. They build productive relationships and encourage everyone to contribute to discussions. And they focus on synthesizing all ideas into a common solution that is stronger and more creative than the solution any one individual might develop.
  • Modern leaders create shared goals. And they help employees understand how each can contribute to the success of the company.
  • And finally, modern leaders generate trust from employees. Modern leaders get to know their employees. They see potential in the people they work with and help them develop that potential.

Kaplan also touched on some salient points concerning today’s job market, and shared some experience-based insights on approaching it. These took the form of a “navigation system,” consisting of nine rules for, as she put it, “how to get where you want by being who you are.” To read those nine rules, along with the rest of her speech, check it out here (or watch it here).

And while we’re on the topic of commencement season, don’t miss the recent post by Dean John LaBrie, here at Aspire, on Why Graduation Matters.

What’s your definition of a modern leader? Do you work for one—or are you a modern leader, yourself? Where did Kaplan hit the mark? Did she miss anything crucial? Share your thoughts with the Aspire community in the comments section below.

While we’re on the subject of graduation, check out this classic graduation speech by Steve Jobs.

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