REAL Leadership in Turbulent Times

Joint conference paper coauthored with Dr. Herman J. van Niekerk.

Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence - Indiana University
Herman J. van Niekerk
Kelley A. Conrad
Presentation Date: 
Friday, April 21, 2017
Event or Conference: 
Leadership Engagement and Discovery Conference
Presentation Type: 
Paper Presentation
Boyer's Domain: 
Presentation Attachment(s): 
Presentation Location: 
801 W. Michigan St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States
REAL Leadership – A Practical Guide for 21st Century Leaders In order to survive and compete successful organizations must expand their awareness and influence across regions, countries, cultures, and industries (Alon & Higgins, 2005). Our current paradigms of learning and leadership are being challenged daily. We need to develop organizational and leadership frameworks combining power, learning, and evolution. The digitization of the workplace, technological advances, and an increasingly unstable geo-political world order necessitate our views of leadership and leadership education be revisited. Furthermore, with increasing globalization, there is greater urgency to prepare leaders to operate in complex business environments and across different cultures (Alon & Higgins, 2005). This presentation will focus on four specific 21st Century leadership domains; Relational effectiveness, Environmental awareness, Action-orientation, and Learning continually, all integrated into our REAL leadership framework. Exploring current thought literature on leadership and using examples, we will show how leaders can use social media to build networks and establish Relational effectiveness to exert both power and legitimacy through attracting followers, adopting team strategies, and sharing power. Leaders can develop critically important, strategic environmental awareness even though that is complicated by the inverted U-shaped relationship between technological environment and technologybased creation (Colovic & Lamotte, 2015). A bias for Action-orientation is also characteristic of effective leaders. Recent extension applies positive organizational scholarship (POS) to create energy networks like change teams, reciprocity networking, challenging goals, fostering positive leadership, celebrating successes, supporting best-self feedback, and taking care of customers (Cameron & Plews, 2012) to address organizational needs. The Lifelong learning advocated for effective leaders are now readily available through social media and distance education which offer engaging learning activities that easy to access (Kind & Evans, 2015). The REAL framework can serve therefore as an easy practical guide to remind leaders of the key factors to exert leadership in a complex world.