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We’re nearing the end of September 2020, still in the middle Of a global pandemic and two decades into the 21st century; a lot has changed since the turn of the millennium.  

In 2000 when I opened up the doors to my smart home and security company in Atlanta, I had just moved from Buffalo NY and my first son was born, the Danger Hiptop/T-Mobile Sidekick was the mobile phone of choice.

While busy instant messaging

On AIM that’s America online for you youngsters that didn’t have to carry a beeper.

we were also watching TV

Lost,” “Mad Men,” “Project Runway,” “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Six Feet Under.” We could go on and on … the 2000s were a great decade for TV. Much better than the ’80s, with all that “Jake and the Fatman” and “Murder She Wrote.”

Social Media

A decade ago we didn’t Twitter, we didn’t Facebook or “friend” people or write on anyone’s wall. We didn’t even MySpace, not until 2003. And, OK, we don’t MySpace now, but how did we communicate back then? Email? From a desktop computer? Were we crazy?

100 Best Songs of the 2000s

From Beyonce and Lady Gaga to Radiohead and Kanye West, these are the best songs from the first decade of the 21st Century

Fast forward twenty years and the majority of the population would be lost without their iPhones.

That’s where the attention is, everyone’s on their phones.

Here let me prove it, you wake up some mornings you head to the bathroom to do your business, half way there as groggy as you are you turn around go back to your nightstand, grab your phone and head over to the bathroom.

Fun fact, 80% of videos are watched on silent and mute on a phone so if you don’t have captions on your videos people are not watching, trust me I went from a handful of views to hundreds of views overnight with this, I learned this from machayla Alexis on LinkedIn, you shoul follow her, she’s got great tips on how to grow on LinkedIn in.

she also loves coffee, go check her stories out for love and coffee, and tell mick that zee sent you

The corporate world has also changed drastically in the last twenty years. 

The pace of commercial and technological change that’s dominated the 21st century has led to a hyper-competitive business environment; one that’s far removed from the stability of the past. 

In this video the questions I got from #AskZarir, what has this shift meant for leadership.

How much has leadership evolved over the last twenty years?

And what does this mean for how we develop our leaders of the future.

Has leadership really changed?

Arguably, the fundamental qualities of effective leaders haven’t really changed.

We still need leaders who have a clear vision, who can communicate that vision in an inspiring and memorable way, who work hard and are committed to the goals of the organization.

We still need leaders who act with integrity, honesty, and transparency.

It’s just the commercial environment has changed so radically that we’ve had to adapt how we lead in order to keep pace.

Motivating employees should be a top priority for you in your business, no matter what.

If you have motivated and engaged employees who are excited and ready to work, it’s a recipe for success.

It may seem obvious to some of you, but there are so many people who think they are giving employees incentive, and they’re not at all.

It can be difficult when you’re the boss to notice when employees are feeling motivated or not.

That’s why you need to make sure that motivating others is always top of mind; hence you must learn to pay attention.

There are so many different ways you can go about motivating others, but in the end, two methods have worked best for me.

I would love to share them with you; hopefully you find them useful.

I talk about them here in this video LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Leadership in 2000: autocratic and task-oriented

Twenty years ago, I was operating my business in a relatively stable world, where change occurred at a much slower pace.

The internet had only been mainstream for five years, remote working wasn’t half the phenomenon it is now, and we were all blissfully unaware of the financial crisis that was to plague is from the 9/11 economy and the 2008 market crash and couldn’t survive 2 hits in less than a decade.

Against this backdrop, autocratic leadership was often the norm.

Managers made all the decisions, with little input from employees.

They had full control, giving people clear direction on what they need to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

The focus was on hard skills and getting tasks done.

In this stable world, it was also easier for organizations to identify and develop their future leaders.

With a linear career path the norm and people staying in jobs for longer, succession planning was easy which is why I worked for ADT as their senior National training and program manager for almost 10 years.

Organizations like this knew exactly where the next leaders were coming from and the skills they would need to succeed.

Leadership in 2020: collaborative and people-oriented

Fast forward to today, and we live in a world driven by commercial and technological disruption.

With change being a constant, leaders need to be both attuned to the impact of technology on their business and highly adaptable as a result.

This has means a shift away from the autocratic leadership style of the 20th century and towards a more collaborative approach.

In this new style of leadership, work is no longer ordered from above but powered from within.

This new way of working has opened the door to innovation and creativity which is crucial for organizations wanting to gain a competitive advantage.

It has also brought teamwork, productivity, meaning and purpose to every aspect of our work, which just so happens to be exactly what employees today are seeking.

There has been a shift away from hard leadership to soft leadership skills too.

Not saying you’re soft, I’m saying LEAD WITH EMPATHY AND KINDNESS

Empathy and kindness are two massively underrated qualities when it comes to leading a team.

They’re not qualities that most people would think makes a good leader, but I believe in them so much.

I genuinely believe that the best leadership qualities are maternal, not paternal.

It’s a lot more appropriate and helpful to have a caring, empathetic, understanding personality when you’re a leader than something stern, paternal, or aggressive.

A lot of people overlook the idea that showing emotion is important.

Even if you already think of yourself as an empathetic or kind person, becoming a manager will change how you practically apply that empathy.

A lot of this just comes down to self-esteem. If you’re not secure in yourself, you’re not going to feel as comfortable being kind, positive, and empathetic to other people.

It won’t come as natural to build someone up (instead of tear them down).

It’s why so many leaders lead with aggressive, mean personalities.

Many of them are just insecure on the inside and they project that insecurity on their understudies.

At my company, we teach values based leadership and never to lead with ego.

We suffocate that negativity out by making positivity just a little louder.

People who lead with negativity and ego get unhappy really quickly.

Leaders are more people-oriented than task-oriented.

I’ve talked in previous videos about the power of leading with kindness and a more human approach.

We can see this in the greater awareness of how employees’ different personalities reflect how they respond to leadership.

Leaders are more open to adapting their approach to get the best out of the individuals they lead, using tools like DISC that offer insights into the best ways to manage people based on their natural behavioral preferences, which I don’t understand completely like some of my buddies like K Hall an amazing HR ninja I’ve come to really like.

Over the past 3 years or so.

The impact of technology has also brought new challenges that have triggered a change in how we lead.

The rise of REMOTE WORKING for instance, has emphasised the importance of leaders trusting people to work towards organizational goals without constant monitoring or guidance.

This notion of empowering rather than smothering your employees is fundamental to 21st century leadership.

When it comes to succession planning and identifying the future leaders of your company, it’s not as easy today as it was twenty years ago.

Research shows that there has been a continued slippage since 1999 in the number of companies who feel they have leaders ready to step in to replace those who retire or move on.

Data from 2018 shows that only 14% of companies have a strong bench of ‘ready-now’ leaders.

What this shift means for leadership development

Knowing where your future leaders are coming from is as key now as it was twenty years ago.

It’s just more complex.

The pace of commercial and technological change shows no signs of slowing down, and so the image of what effective leadership looks like will continue to evolve.

This only makes it more important for organizations to invest in developing high-potential employees early on.

As Kathy Caprino writes in an article for Forbes “Part of being a great leader in a digital era also depends on developing other leaders.”

The link to her article is in the comment section below.

As employees across the board are given more autonomy and freedom to make decisions that align with the goals and strategy of the business, organizations are starting to develop leaders earlier, before they reach senior roles.

What’s more, these development programs are more personalized to the learners’ roles and the organization’s’ needs.

Many organization’s have seen benefits in introducing a formal mentoring culture, for example.

Likewise, technology is also being used to create learning content that is more tailored to individual employees.


The last twenty years have seen organization’s shift from an autocratic to a more collaborative leadership style; from task-oriented to people-oriented. 

Change can be good (imagine still having a Nokia 3210?), but it can also be bad, not sure why.  

When we think about the last twenty years of leadership, despite the turbulence digital disruption has caused, the shift in both how we lead and how we develop our leaders has been a positive one.  

What do you think? Shoot me a comment below, Has our approach to leadership changed for the better? 

Leave a comment, drink better coffee and don’t forget to tell all your friends about this video experience, cuz ya never know, what ya gonna get, got it?

Thank you for watching my weekly askzarir videos right here on coffee with zee

Please remember this, zig Ziglar famously said you’ll get everything in life you want just as long as you’ll help enough other people get what they want.

Have a great week, just say hakuna matata and I’ll

See you in the next video.

Peace ✌️

Published by Zarir Merwanji

Empathy lives at the intersection of my family FIRST and my work space SECOND through influence, leadership, sales and technology.

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