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Cool-Power Leadership: 4 Guidelines To Cultivate Yours

Cool-Power Leadership: 4 Guidelines To Cultivate Yours

What do you value most in a leader? The 4th annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM) recently came out with some interesting findings that point to changing views about leadership around the globe.

An online survey went out to 6,000 people in different parts of the world last spring asking what they valued most in a leader. The findings revealed a growing lack of confidence in hierarchal leadership and a trend toward the title-less leader – leaders who no longer reside at the top of the org chart or even have traditional leadership titles.

This isn’t surprising since we’ve been seeing the CEO-as-celebrity model fading over the last several years. Only a small contingent of survey participants in the KLCM study (25%) felt leadership should come solely from the CEO. Nearly half of respondents (41%) expressed a desire for a more grassroots approach to leadership – feeling it should emanate from the broader organization and its employees.

Gender Differences

While the majority of respondents (61%) said they would prefer men to lead during rapidly changing and challenging times, women came out ahead when it came to demonstrating three out of five of the most effective leadership traits as determined by the survey. These traits included communicating openly and transparently, admitting mistakes and bringing out the best in others.

Getting “Cool”

Turns out these traits, for which women were highly rated, lend themselves to “cool-power” leadership – the direction the world is heading according to writer, Geoff Colvin. In a Fortune article on leadership and gender, Colvin describes cool-power leadership as a style where leaders must “influence a wide range of groups over which they have no direct authority." Colvin says that women are at an advantage here. “In a world that favors leadership based on personal interaction rather than authority, women have a head start,” Colvin says.

If you aspire to lead and put your “cool-power” to work, here are four insights about successful leaders, from INC.’s Jayson Demers:

1.They Never Speak Too Much. Abraham Lincoln said, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” The most powerful people in the world have established reputations for speaking clearly, eloquently and often, but even in those cases, you’ll find the speaker says as little as possible.

2.They Don’t Argue. Powerful people aren’t worried about winning through an argument. They simply want the best possible results and won’t waste time bickering to get there. Leaders prove their case through action.

3.They Think Several Moves Ahead. Powerful people tend to forego rewards of the moment for the greater rewards of the future, and are willing to make temporary sacrifices if that’s what it means to achieve victory.

4.They Distinguish Themselves. Leaders are where they are because they didn’t follow the norm and found a way to stand out.

We’re seeing it more and more: women gaining presence in leadership positions on an ever-broadening stage. Whether you have ambition to lead from the lower rungs or the top of the ladder, put these strategies to work for yourself, and lead on.


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the 2ndedition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, and the British online magazine The Rouse and More Magazineonline. She is hosting and producing an online webisode series called Thrive!, about career & life empowerment for women. She hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life oniTunes. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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