As the saying goes “it takes two to tango” – even in achieving effective leadership!

Leadership remains one of the most discussed and researched topics in contemporary management.

And leadership development still is one of the hottest topics in business today, with companies investing heavily in it. Based on the massive amount of attention, effort and investment which has been put into it, one would expect that leadership and leadership development are some of the most advanced and best practiced forms.

Nothing is further from the truth!

The latest cutting-edge research in leadership development says that despite developments over the past 25 years, the field is still relatively immature. Similarly, despite the plethora of leadership competency models available, practitioners say that most leadership development programs fail due to four common mistakes:

  1. overlooking the context;
  2. separating reflection from real work;
  3. underestimating the power of mind-sets; and
  4. failing to measure results.

Effective leadership development remains the top challenge faced by organisations around the world in the post-GFC recession. Leaders face challenges such as varying global engagement levels across regions, low levels of trust (with governments plunging into historic lows), high profile ethical failures and increasing complexities.

A Glimpse of the Future

The future will see an explosive nonlinear growth of knowledge, technology and new service offerings. This will cause unprecedented disruptions, including social change, tensions and upheaval. Based on nature and human history, it’s likely that natural disasters, accidents, wars, injustice, and abuses of leadership power will persist – and may escalate.

As a result, stronger focus and effort will be placed on the speed of learning and the quality of relationships in order to counter corruption, complacency, calamity and self-destruction. The distinction between work and leisure, and the balance between work and rest, will continue to blur as new conceptions of work emerge.

The Future of Leadership and Followership

To cope in those turbulent times ahead, trust will become the most precious human commodity and social currency. Leaders and followers will relate in unprecedented ways. New forms of distributive and collective leadership will emerge, along with new approaches to the re-distribution of power and wealth – but not without opposition. The followership movement and theory, which views leadership as a relational process that is co-created between people working together, will reach its apex.

Followers will finally come to realise their true power in the leadership equation. They’ll realise that exercising followership is not, by any means, less honourable or challenging than exercising leadership. As a result, they will play a more active role in leadership.

The health and quality of leader-stakeholder relationships will be accounted for by using a new yard stick – Leadership Psychological Contracts (LPCs). These will provide the new lenses and metrics used to assess the levels of leaders’ character, integrity and credibility, as the unique drivers that can lead to high levels of stakeholder engagement (commitment, satisfaction, discretionary effort and innovation).

Like dancing the tango, this new type of leadership will be characterised by an open and close embrace and mutuality of action between leaders and stakeholders; and a permanent combination of an on-and off-beat rhythm. It will also have musicality and playfulness. Above all, however, it will have a distinct clarity of high order purpose, and strong determined actions to deliver extraordinary results.

To achieve this successfully, also like in tango, intimacy without strings between leaders and followers will be a must. This will mean establishing profound and honest connections between human beings – a vehicle for inner transformation and ultimately a better world for the generations to come.

Whether you see yourself as a leader or a follower, the big question is: are you ready to tango?


Sebastian Salicru (Business Psychologist) Leadership Development Expert  


Photo Credit: Andrea Balducci via photopin cc