The future of leadership: Dr David Henderson, senior lecturer management, Cass Business School, Cit

Written by
Changeboard Team

09 Oct 2014

09 Oct 2014 • by Changeboard Team

Public vs private sector

Engaging in a leadership role is one of the most important ways an individual – working in either the public or private sector, can be of service to his or her organisation, family, and community.

Typically, the public and private sectors are viewed as vastly different in terms of their operating models and leadership needs. However, this attitude is changing as the private sector expands its definition of ‘stakeholder’ to include those who are not direct owners, workers, consumers, or in b-to-b roles, but are touched by organisational activity.

This shift makes the private sector more like the public sector in terms of adopting a more socially-aware approach, for example. At the same time, public sector organisations are beginning to understand that, to be sustainable, they must move away from their traditionally rigid and technically-based leadership models to adopt the more flexible and network-based approaches that are considered mainstream in private organisations.

What traits do future leaders need?

The good news is that the Middle East holds a hotbed of talent that will enable it, in both sectors, to produce future leaders that are socially-minded and ready to enact greater flexibility and network-based approaches in their roles.

The reason for this is that these needs correspond with long-standing cultural values in the region that are already in the hearts of many of the population. The results of the Global Leadership and Organisational Behaviour Effectiveness research programme, from Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, suggest that, compared with other societies in the world, Middle Easterners score relatively low on uncertainty avoidance and high on in-group collectivism.

Linking strategy to values

In other words, people native to the region are taught from a young age to be naturally more flexible and relational and to consider the needs and interests of others when making decisions and conducting their work. In the future, leaders in the Middle East will have more space, in both private and public sector organisations, to adopt strategies that are more aligned with their internal value systems.

HR management departments will play a critical role in addressing these shifts in leadership needs. Training and mentoring programmes must take into account the stress that people face when moving away from traditional leadership approaches. This movement will challenge beliefs around what it means to be successful in the workplace and what it means to identify as a leader.

To change these attitudes, organisations must be shown how these future leadership needs mirror existing cultural beliefs. HR departments can reduce the fear of change by explaining how these adaptations in attitudes and behaviours are not necessarily new – but rather a greater connection to what already was.