Leadership Skill in the Twenty-First Century

Updated May 6, 2022

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Leadership Skill in the Twenty-First Century essay

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Problems of the 21st century need to be solved by a new approach. Leaders can reach this new approach. While leadership styles may differ on some topics in public and private organizations, they are basically same as there are leaders and followers in both situations. Thus, leaders need to be innovative and courageous. Innovative leaders generate new ideas and new ways when facing the problems. On the other hand, courageous leaders do not fear of pressure or difficulty.


In the twenty-first century there are a lot of problems such as hunger, poverty, unemployment, inequality, corruption, terrorism, wars, lack of liberty, justice, unfair globalization and environmental destruction. These problems threaten the lives of many people throughout the world and put next generations under a great risk. It can be seen that current leadership practices failed to bring an end to these problems. Majority of people believe that current leadership practices could not solve these problems and will not be able to solve too. Thus, they wish it to be changed (Toffler, 1990; Drucker, 1993; Senge, 1993; Gibson, 1997; Sachs, 2008; Marber, 2009; Collis, 1998; Sharp, 2011; Kellerman, 2012; Ross, 2011; Stiglitz, 2012).

These mentioned problems are twenty-first century’s problems and they reached such a high level that current leadership practices cannot even handle it. In order to find a solution to these problems, we need contemporary leadership practices. Only then these problems can be solved.

This paper is organized as follows: differences between public and private organizations are clarified in section 2. Innovative leadership is explained in section 3. Finally, courageous leadership is explained in section 3.

Leadership in Public and Private Organizations

To understand the leadership differences between public and private I have analyzed a research made by Maria Viorica Bedrule-Grigoruta. This research was made by arranging interviews with leaders of 11 public institutions (de-concentrated public services) and 8 private companies in the North-West regions of Romania, discussing with 55 persons, 21 of the public environment and 34 of the private environment (Bedrule-Grigorutaa, 2012).

No company can exist nor perform its activity without a team management imposed by effective and efficient leadership. Also, both in the public system and in the private system, in the two sectors (tertiary and secondary), we can notice that the teams work at the same parameters established by managers: attitude, behavior, responsibilities, communication, development, innovation, organization system, etc. (Bedrule-Grigorutaa, 2012).

The leadership performed in public organizations based on innovation is less developed because innovation at the level of such a system is, generally, little exploited. On the other hand, organizations in the private system invest numerous material, financial, and especially human resources in organizational innovation. Also the public system is better developed in the field of services, while the private system presents an improvement in the market of goods, besides services. (Bedrule-Grigorutaa, 2012).

Personally I find this research weak as it does not really reach a conclusion which is valid for whole world but only for where the research was done, Romania. The research also seems to have found conclusions different from its main goal at the first place.

Innovative Leadership for the Twenty-First Century

Innovative leadership practices provide radical changes through new ideas, methods, processes, and techniques to solve the present and anticipated future problems. Some of the innovative leaders who can develop successful innovations are called revolutionary leaders (Burns, 1978).

Innovative leaders have creative visions. They also put thinking to highest priority. They take risk and dedicate themselves to find a solution to the twenty-first century’s problems. Innovative leaders meet the needs of people both in short and long term. Besides the leader, his/her followers’ knowledge is an important factor for successful innovative leadership too. Followers of innovative leaders must be open to new ideas and solutions. In cases where this condition cannot be provided, innovative leaders are more likely to fail.

Innovative leaders must have at least basic knowledge about mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, politics, history and language. This kind of knowledge is called explicit knowledge or technical knowledge in the literature. They also should know the values knowledge including social values, ideas, intuitions, imaginations, and beliefs (Polonyi,1996).

Courageous Leadership for the Twenty-First Century

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1973), courage is defined as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Courage is the ability to act in spite of doubt or fear. Courage means accepting responsibility, being able to go against the grain, breaking traditions, reducing boundaries, and initiating change. In addition, it means pushing beyond the comfort zone, asking for what you want and saying what you think, and fighting what you believe (Daft, 2005)

Courageous leaders have courage characteristics which makes them advantaged different from other leaders. This courage can be the intellectual courage which makes leaders ask the questions of what to do, how to do and why. Besides from that it can be creativity courage which makes the leader to find new ways, new aspects to solve a problem. For instance, Ataturk’s creative courage played a crucial role for founding the Republic of Turkey. (Şen 2013)

When we look at the history we see that successful leaders such as Ataturk, Lenin, Castro, Gandhi, Martin Luther all have courage related characteristics including knowledge, moral, creative and biological. These great leaders used their courage related characteristics in order to beat difficulties and find solutions to the problems.


Twenty-first century problems need a new approach to be solved. This new approach can be achieved by leaders. Although the leadership styles in public and private organizations may differ from each other on some topics, they are basically same as there are leaders and followers in both situations. Nevertheless, leaders must be innovative and courageous. Innovative leaders generate new ideas and new ways when facing the problems. On the other hand, courageous leaders do not fear of pressure or difficulty.


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  3. Daft, L. Richard. (2005). The Leadership Experience. Ohio: South-Western
  4. Drucker, P.F. (1993). Post Capitalist Society. New York: Harper Business.
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  12. Sharp Gene. (2011). From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. King’s Cross. London: HousmansBookshop.
  13. Stilglitz E. Joseph. (2012). The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our future. New Yok: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  14. Şen Asım, Kamil Erkan, Gözde Yangınlar (2013) Courageous Leadership for The Twenty-First Century. Department of Industrial Engineering, Beykent University, Istanbul
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  16. Webster’s new Collegiate Dictionary (1973) Springfield MASS.: G. &C.Merriam Company
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