Leadership is something that we understand at a very young age. From parents to teachers to our very first boss, we comprehend the value and the respect that a leadership position holds. It is a reassuring force, an authoritative measure of control, or a trailblazing individual that we can confidently follow. In the complex world of business, strong leadership has also had a long tradition of great men and women that have moved our world forward in technology, industry, marketing, infrastructure, and innovation. As the world has moved forward, so too have the responsibilities of leadership, but in the 20th century, there was a distinct drop off in leadership innovation, replaced by the unavoidable demands of productivity, profits, and the almighty market share. Leadership became more of a burden than a mantle, resulting in a decline in risk-taking, ambition, and creativity.
Fortunately, recent years have seen a revitalization of leadership, and we have once again placed great faces in front of our most respected and admired companies. The question is, what changed? Where did this new generation of leaders come from, and what ideas are they employing that suddenly changed the game all over again? It is perfectly fitting that the popular culture idea of being cool bled into the philosophy of business, and that is precisely the word that defines modern times’ greatest leaders. They are cool bosses, dedicated to not only thinking outside the box and advancing their companies’ vision forward into a profitable future, but also for changing the way that global culture functions through their interest in innovation, risk, change, evolution, and overall advancement of the human experience. Those might be bold words, but they are hardly mine. They are evidenced by the actions of the most influential and respected minds in business theory, who are, as we speak, changing the landscape of humanity. Business has come to the forefront of human progress and change, and it is an undeniable trend of being cool that we see leading the charge. We identify with these leaders, raise them up on pedestals previously reserved for movie stars and rock gods. These CEOs and business leaders have fan clubs and imitators, because they are the ones who are changing the world.
It is essential to remember that these same great leaders simply adopted carefully crafted and thought out philosophies for their behavior and attitudes, then implemented them in their business strategies. The great secrets of their success are not heavily guarded secrets; they are being studied and emulated by thousands of other people around the world. If they want the world to advance as much as they say they do, these leaders are obviously not shy about explaining the methods to their madness, and hoping that other leaders and thinkers pick up the torch and find new and exciting ways to innovate and drive the great human endeavor of creativity forward.
My recent book, Cool Boss, is a tool to share those cutting edge strategies and techniques that have raised companies to such unprecedented heights by keeping their employees loyal, their consumers enthralled, and the markets guessing over what groundbreaking idea they might pursue next. It is the responsibility of burgeoning businesses, as well as companies that have been established for some time, to consider the implications and value that their company will have on the world at large if they don’t use some of these leadership strategies. The choice of whether to think differently isn’t a matter of being a good leader or a bad leader; it is about whether someone deserves the title of ‘leader’ at all. A leader is someone who others follow, but if they are simply walking over the same ground as others have already tread, then how can they justly be called a leader?