This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 9, 2005

Secret of Effective Leadership in 21st Century

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Herman Trend Alert: Secret of Effective Leadership in 21st Century February 9, 2005

Our research into what makes leaders effective has uncovered an interesting factor that deserves more exploration and discussion. For years, workers seeking to grow into higher career positions have developed specialties in particular areas of expertise. In tomorrow’s world, these subject matter strengths will be valuable, but will not enable people to become effective leaders.

Validating what we have studied and what is reported to us by our consulting clients, e-mails received from Herman Trend Alert subscribers have been strong and consistent. We need engineers, scientists, information technology specialists, environmentalists, healthcare professionals, and many more technically-schooled workers. Skills in the use of computers and electronic media are also essential for success in our global, technological world. With rapid change and expanding opportunities, workers---and especially leaders--- need something more.

The most critical ingredient for success in the years---and decades---ahead will be a broad and deep understanding of a wide range of topics. The ability to intellectually explore and discuss issues, possibilities, and new methods will require greater understanding and appreciation of history, philosophy, research, and communication. The future work environment will demand people who can think creatively, collaborate well with others, and approach life from a solid interdisciplinary foundation. Strength in a narrow specialty will no longer be sufficient.

Subject matter experts who learned management in the latter half of the last century will find themselves competing with a new kind of worker, a new kind of leader. People with a liberal arts education are now in demand because of the breadth and multidisciplinary nature of their post-secondary education. While liberal arts gradates used to be perceived as unprepared for any career requiring expertise, they are now sought-after because of their abilities to be flexible, adaptable, and look at things from a number of perspectives. They respond more effectively to changing conditions because they have a broader foundation and have been challenged to explore possibilities.

Leading educational institutions are already responding to the emerging need, offering week-end courses and now even graduate degrees in liberal arts. For an example of a long-time innovator in this work, see

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