Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

The Profile of the Twenty-First Century Leader: Redefining Today's Progressive Entrepreneurs

Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

The Profile of the Twenty-First Century Leader: Redefining Today's Progressive Entrepreneurs

Article excerpt


Leadership has undergone a metamorphosis as we enter the twenty-first century. The onset of the new millennium challenges leaders as they deal with the dynamic changes in business affected by high technology and a global marketplace. As business and societal demands change, the characteristics of those entrepreneurs spearheading leadership must also be redefined. The definition of leadership is no longer categorized as autocratic, democratic, and free reign. Within progressive organizations, leadership has been redefined to incorporate integrity, reliability, collaboration, trust, and empathy. This paper analyzes to theories of top leadership experts chosen for their varying approaches to leadership. The author reviews their literature for commonalities and synthesizes their work to create a profile of the twenty-first century leader. Since leadership is dependent upon the willingness of people to follow, the author examines what motivates employees to follow strong leaders. The author then synthesizes the concepts and examines the leadership characteristics previously identified in the research to examine if they dovetail with what motivates people to follow bringing together both leadership traits that redefine progressive entrepreneurs and the essential action of leadership identified by followers. The paper advances the study of leadership by analyzing the work by a myriad of authors, comparing and contrasting the literature for commonalities within the works and theories, and defines those commonalities so that others can learn from consistent leadership concepts prevalent throughout the literature.


The onset of high technology and the dynamics of a global marketplace have changed the way corporate America does business and, in turn, affected the way employees seek leadership to manage it. The very interpersonal characteristics and the knowledge base that contributed to good leadership in the past have undergone a metamorphosis. Gone are the three general leadership categories of autocratic, democratic and free rein. Employees have become wiser in the way they are treated by upper level management and demand a level of respect from leadership. The changing dynamics of today's society have forced leaders to re-think their approach as a changing definition of leader evolves.

The twenty-first century brings with it rapid and dramatic change in business from technology to organizational restructuring. The Internet has now become a portal to conduct business globally, eliminating geographic barriers to trade. Organizations have gone from a hierarchal structure with many layers of management to a matrix structure that supports employee empowerment. The information age has ushered in a need for people in organizations to be flexible, pro-active and receptive to change (Levy, 1998). A different kind of leader has emerged. Kotter (1996) states:

The key to creating and sustaining the kind of successful twenty-first century organization is leadership. This means that over the next few decades we will see both a new form of organization emerge to cope with a faster-moving and more competitive environment and a new kind of employee, at least in successful firms (p. 175).

The traditional models related to the origins of leadership no longer exist in today's fast-paced and changing business. The concept that leadership skills are a divine gift of birth bestowed upon a few people is not only antiquated but seems ludicrous in light of today's research on leadership. The words dictatorship, divine rule, autocratic, chain-of-authority, and divide and conquer are disappearing from the leadership vocabulary. Useem (2000) as cited by Domm (2001) defines leadership as involving strategic vision, a persuasive voice and tangible results (p. 39). Cleveland (1997) describes effective leadership as neither the bureaucratic exercise of routine administrative prerogatives, nor the wielding of power for its own sake. …

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