Posted by Russ Irwin

Posted on 20th May, 2016

LeadershipShortly after the passing of Steve Jobs, I was asked my thoughts on him at a conference where I was speaking on leadership. My response was that the world had lost a brilliant and creative man who will be missed by millions. As I thought about this iconic individual – how he shaped our world and the ways we communicate – my thoughts quickly turned to who would replace him. It is no secret that we live in times of global unrest, a time where panic and pessimism are at a peak; if we are to navigate our way through the changes toward a turnaround and a measure of sustainable success, we will need to look at the leadership qualities necessary to do so.

What are some of the qualities of a 21st century leader?

The following is by no means exhaustive, but is enough to stimulate thought and possibly shift the way we think. Here are a few keys to successful and sustainable leadership:

1.      A Leader Must Know WHO They Are

Everyone has a uniqueness that causes them to stand out above the rest.

The key to successful leadership is in discovering that uniqueness, accepting it, beginning to fine-tune it, and then finding a way to release it. If we fail to know who we are, we open the door for others to define us – and often their agenda creates an identity for us that best suits their needs.

In a study that looked at key traits of highly successful individuals, they discovered the two most common traits were: Self Awareness and Authenticity.

Self Awareness:

Self Awareness is the awareness you have of your natural talents and abilities. It is not introspection looking for some deep dark secret but rather a straightforward and honest understanding of who you are. When we know who we are and what our strengths and limitations are, we can begin to chart a course to move beyond those constraints and the disempowering beliefs or insecurities that may have held us or caused us to hold others back.

Self Awareness brings a level of liberation and clarity that helps us to move toward purpose.


Authenticity is simply being true to what we have discovered about who we are, what are our abilities are, and how we can incorporate this into what we do and how we do it. People will not pay for ‘average’; therefore we must do what we are passionate about and gifted to do, which in turn better aligns us with our assignment.

2.     A Leader Has Influence

Leadership in the 21st century is less about skill and position, and more about influence. Leadership is no longer about command and control, but cultivating and coordinating others.

If we have power without care and compassion, we become reckless and abusive. If we have compassion and care without power, we become sentimental and anemic. To be truly successful and sustain that level of success and impact, a leader must become more of a facilitator that allows for the creation of a culture of access.

An influential leader is also one who creates a sense of calmness in times of turbulence; a calm leader responds rather than reacts.

3.     A Leader Creates a Culture of Access

When you create a culture of access, you empower others to enlarge their sphere of influence, creativity, and innovation.

A culture of access not only empowers people to become more creative, increasing productivity and profitability, it also creates an atmosphere of security and stability. Empowering others is not necessarily providing them solely with knowledge, it is giving them authority and the permission to use it.

In a culture of access, your employee and your customer become your partners.

4.     A Leader Must Deliver HOPEHope

This does not mean that the leaders deny the truth about their present reality; it simply means they create a ray of hope. Your employees must see a light at the end of the tunnel – and the leader must become that light.

Your body and verbal language has the ability to shift the energy levels and atmosphere of a room. When you are hopeful as a leader, you begin to send out a hopeful message that begins to change the behavior of those around you.

Irwin & Associates coaching will help you achieve lasting personal and professional transformations in alignment with your goals and dreams. Take your first step now at a complimentary consultation.

Like this? You might also like:

Russ Irwin

About Russ Irwin

Russ is a highly sought after executive and business coach due to his unique qualifications and talents, including 17 years of entrepreneurial success, over 9 years of executive coaching experience, as well as a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Master’s in Behavioural Sciences. Russ is also an experienced international keynote conference and seminar speaker.