Do Leadership Fundamentals Still Matter?

In our last blog, we introduced the concept of Sapient Leadership to help emphasize what is important as it relates to retooling and upskilling your leadership bench strength. It was refreshing to see that the latest research and insights support the fact that leadership fundamentals still matter, specifically the softer side of leadership.  

More has been written about leadership in the last decade than in the century before. New publications about leadership contain insights derived from data and analytics, and they all put a modern spin on what it means to lead in today’s world.

With so much new information available about leadership, you might think that the nature of leadership has changed considerably in the digital age.

While it is true that the emphasis has shifted away from the “command-and-control” model of leadership and toward a softer, more mindful, and inclusive managerial style, the fundamentals of effective leadership remain surprisingly steady. Many of the “new” ideas being unveiled these days about leadership are simply proven, time-tested concepts that have been around for decades.

In reality, leadership has changed in dramatic, easily recognizable ways. Just look at the way “bosses” are portrayed on TV and in movies today versus 20 years ago — today’s depictions are more diverse, more self-aware, and more emotionally intelligent, which reflects positive changes and growth we have achieved as a society. But the qualities that make a leader effective are rooted in fundamentals that have delivered positive results for centuries and these fundamentals will likely remain essential to leadership for the next century and beyond.

Ultimately, leaders need to unite people, inspire high performance, attract the best talent, and guide their organizations to success. So, what are some of those fundamentals and why do they matter?

Attracting Talent

High-achieving individuals are attracted to organizations that do big things. They want to work for leaders who bring out the best in them. They also want to match their skills with the opportunities that are best suited to them. Effective leaders operate organizations that succeed not only at delivering on their company vision, but they also strive to attract the brightest, most talented people. The best leaders don’t stop there, though; they bring in the best talent and find the most powerful ways to develop that talent.

Bringing People Together

If you read a lot of modern leadership advice, you will see words like “synergy” and “integration” quite often. Buzzwords like these are a fancy way of describing how to unite people and ideas. At the end of the day, it is the leader’s responsibility to bring people together in a collaborative and high-functioning manner. Human beings simply accomplish more when they work together, but it requires leadership to bring that to life.

Connecting People to a Vision

A vision of what could be, of what is possible, is something that excites and unites people. Leaders are responsible for connecting people to that vision in a more meaningful way, explaining how each member of the team contributes to the vision and the company’s success.  With no vision, there is no leadership.

Developing Strategies

The best leaders inspire their people with a vision of what is possible and explain how every individual contributes to the company and departmental vision as noted above. They also know how to turn ideas into reality with a comprehensive strategy designed to maximize the talents of their people. Leaders understand that an inspiring vision will only take them so far. They are also skilled at developing roadmaps and strategies with their people to help navigate their organization to success.

Executing Strategies

Leaders need to bring it all together with this fundamental aspect of leadership. Winning strategies are roadmaps; executing those strategies is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. The most effective leaders know how to hold their people accountable and support them as they execute on the vision and strategy for the organization.

Fostering Innovation

The most effective leaders don’t just lean on the same old way of doing things. They challenge their people to think outside the box, look internally as well as externally on how to move the needle towards success. They develop and encourage new ideas, methods, and ways of working together. They inspire their people to think bigger and strive for excellence in everything they do.

Continuous Growth & Improvement

We are all forever students of life as it is all about constant evolution and growth. The most effective leaders know how to see around the next corner, and they understand that they must update their own leadership operating systems regularly if they want to stay top of their game. 

The same philosophy applies to their people, and they encourage others to push beyond the status quo, believing that there is always room to do better and be better. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow vs. discouraging a fail-fast culture.

What Are Your Leadership Fundamentals?

As you can see, these fundamentals of leadership are evergreen. They are as true today as they have always been, and we have only scratched the surface with this list.

What do you think of when you consider the fundamentals of leadership? What qualities do you feel are non-negotiable when it comes to leading people? What are the fundamental qualities that you struggle with?

I’d love to continue this conversation and find out what you think, so please reach out. You can  contact me directly via phone at 1-855-871-3374 or via email at I look forward to hearing from you!

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