The End of an Era - Why Brash Business Leaders Might be Fading Away
Brash leaders can achieve brilliant results. In business, where the stakes are high and the margin for error is low, taking a bold approach to drive a company to new heights is admirable. But at what cost?
The business landscape is changing, alongside a change in values and expectations. The leadership styles that have been successful in the past are not likely to work in 2024 and beyond. Will traditional, alpha leaders struggle to deliver the high level of innovation required by the changing times?
Here at BBD Perfect Storm we created New Macho, a specialist division which focuses on how brands and advertisers can talk to, and relate to, modern men. Fernando Desouches, Managing Director at New Macho shares his thoughts on the topic.
Why are brash business leaders fading away? Does this mean that the era of the brash business leader is over?
I recently listened to an interview with Yuval Noah Harari where he stated that "Intelligence can be self-destructive." When we contemplate the state of the world across various fields, we can now see proof of this. From my perspective, this statement can be rephrased to say that intelligence without wisdom (or consciousness) can lead to self-destructive outcomes.
I believe this realisation lies at the core of the change in our leadership values. Leadership solely based on intelligence can solve problems but may also be harmful or unsustainable. Therefore, there is a growing call for a more conscious type of leadership, which is becoming increasingly appealing and necessary.
Modern leadership traits at the upper echelons of the business world and the common behaviours we see from leaders and entrepreneurs are at odds with the personal feelings of modern men. Can you expand on this and offer solutions?
At BBD Perfect Storm we created a specialist division called New Macho that focuses on how brands and advertisers can talk to and relate to modern men. We recently spoke to a large sample of men aged 18-75 in the UK and US and the results clearly showed a shift in values between pre-pandemic and current times. In the past, male aspirations were centred around making money, seeking fame, or living a glamorous lifestyle. However, presently, men aspire to more intangible goals: finding happiness in everyday life, fostering good relationships, and maintaining good health.
Regarding work expectations, the majority agreed that "work should be meaningful, helping both myself and others." However, when asked about social expectations, they still perceived that the "work hard, play hard" mantra dominates.
Men are evolving, but their perception of social expectations is in conflict. Businesses and leaders who quickly integrate this understanding into their narratives and behaviours will benefit by attracting the best talent.
Musk et al are not representative of modern men. What can business leaders do to get it right?
I believe it is time to redefine the concept of "man-up." From my perspective, we are witnessing some of the most important leaders in the western world (not just business leaders) sometimes behaving like children, inviting others to fight in the school playground. These are not the type of leaders we need to address the significant social, environmental, and economic issues we are collectively facing. Instead, we require grounded, mature men who understand that the leadership values we expect are shifting from Control, Competitive, Unconscious and Individual to Creative, Collaborative, Conscious, and Connected.
How do you see this phenomenon playing out in the business world ? How can businesses address this?
We are at a very interesting time where leaders are facing huge challenges; people are questioning how and why we work in the way we do and the shifts across the working landscape are now fast in play. Where it’s daunting for many leaders who are trying to navigate these changes there is also huge opportunity for meaningful change. I believe that men (and the world) are at a tipping point. We are faced with two possibilities: either leaders and businesses embrace the new incipient values necessary to adapt to the future, or we risk reverting to the past, which can be dangerous, not just for business but for society.
Fernando Desouches, Managing Director New Macho at BBD Perfect Storm.
To read the full article, featuring Simon Jeffries, Sally Percy, Dr Alexandra Dobra-Kiel and Fernando Desouches see below.