Success Involves an Excellent Strategy and Collaborative Execution

How to Be Successful as a Leader
in the 21st Century

Dr. Frank Knoche, 2019

My Personal Manual on

The most difficult task for a leader in the 21st century is to align people around the organization’s mission and shared values.


This is a marked difference to the positional and expert power style of leadership of the 20th century, and is far more challenging than meeting short-term goals in the past.

A New Style of Leadership Is Needed in the 21st Century

Attributes of the 21st Century Leader

  • Forward thinking
    • Plans ahead
    • Fosters innovation
    • Is prepared to future challenges
  • Coureagous
    • Takes calculated risk
    • Acts thoughtful and is optimistic
    • Has a thick skin but is not insensitive
  • Team building
    • Involves the strengths of others in decisions to achieve success
    • Can read people
    • Is comfortable with and relies on diversity

Commitment To "Four Spheres of Morality"
Is Crucial for the 21st Century Leader

  • Commitment as a person
    • Acts with integrity and character in business and in private life
  • Commitment as an economic agent
    • Acts to improve the economic viability of the firm
  • Commitment as a company leader
    • Acts as a transformative leader
  • Commitment beyond firm's boundaries
    • Considers interdependencies in a globalized and connected world

Adapted from Chester Barnard's book "The Functions of the Executive" (1938)

Execution Is the Major Task
of the 21st Century Leader

  • Execution is a discipline with three core processes:
    • People process 
    • Strategy process
    • Operations process
  • Execution has to be the foundation of the culture of the leader's whole organization


Corporate Culture Is Everything

  1. We have to understand that corporate culture evolves over a long period of time
  2. It cannot be changed over night
  3. Changing corporate culture requires more than words and rhetoric, it involves what 'you do'


Corporate culture is not only important,
it is everything

A Corporate Culture
for Successful Execution Demands

  • A culture where everybody is committed and accountable
  • A culture where collaboration is the key to success
  • A culture which is committed to its clients success
  • A culture which listens better to clients and colleagues


Collaborative Leadership Is Your Key to Success in the Age of Supertransparency

  • Be a collaborative leader
    • Believe that power is only attained through interdisciplinary teamwork
    • Openly share information and knowledge
    • Encourage ideas and suggestions from your team
    • Allow roles and responsibilities in your team to evolve and to fluctuate
    • Uncover root causes of issues
    • Offer immediate and ongoing feedback with personalized coaching

Become a Transformational Leader

  • Inspire your team with your vision and ambitions
  • Be a role model. 'Walk the walk'. Show the qualities you want from your team.
  • Be a servant and situational leader:
    • Act as a mentor and coach to your team
    • React to the individual needs of your team members
  • Challenge your team to be innovative and creative
    • Focus on the "What"
    • Enable your team to create the "How"
  • Be authentic
  • Be people friendly but uncompromizing on performance

Your First 100 Days
in a New Leadership Position

  • Accept the status quo
    • Do not analyze the past
    • Start with an initial introspection as well as an outward inspection
  • Act boldly, but first see clearly
  • Build a team of team players
    • This can imply changes in your current team, but it does not have to
    • Be clear who you have on board before you make changes in your team
  • Do not be the smartest person in the room
    • Be wise by being attentive

Drive Change
Using Kotter's 8-Step-Change Model

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition (incl. your board)
  3. Form a vision and strategic initiatives
  4. Enlist a "volunteer army"
  5. Generate real impact by working cross-divisional and by removing inefficient processes
  6. Generate short term wins
  7. Press harder after the first success
  8. Institute change

Leadership Is a Journey,

Not a Destination

Enjoy your leadership journey. It will continue throughout your life.

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