The modern day worker cannot be deceived with promises of quick and easy solutions and a perfect world. The challenges we face at work are multidimensional. They are complex and demanding of both our cognitive and our emotional and social intelligences. In addition, modern day life is fast-paced with relentless waves of change. In such a world, the quality of our work and our progress is more dependent on the ability to respond effectively to situations than it is to comply with rules, regulations and standards. In essence, in a postmodern world beyond blueprints, formulas, recipes, textbook solutions and the dominance of reason, leaders in particular must have deep intuitive insight, grounded in a solid spiritual foundation of principles and values.
Equally important is the regard for relationships of all kinds and knowing how to preserve them. Great leaders know how to balance the necessary regulations of good governance and accountability, with the creativity and skill to optimize opportunities that unlock their full potential.
Developing leaders
The above factors have a significant impact on the type of leader that is needed in business, as well as the methodology which is used to develop such leaders. The requirement to respond in quick time but with a long term and holistic view demands leadership skill and ability at all levels of an organization. It therefore needs to be in the vision of the leaders with the highest responsibility for the organization to strategically build the leadership of all its employees.
The modern leader is characterized more by his insight, resolve and ability to ‘read' people and situations well than it is by his knowledge or charisma. The development of a leader is therefore neither determined by nature (personality) nor by study and classroom training. The focus in developing a leader needs to be more experiential, learning from feedback and reflecting on inner as well as team dynamics.
Developing and building leaders should not be seen, neither be treated, as an event. Instead the development of leaders is a process which is typically not classroom training, but hands-on coaching and facilitated self-reflection. Developing good leaders is also not a theoretical application which is done in isolation, but rather a continuous set of practical experiences which is applied in the context of teamwork. Such development of leaders must be done in a responsive manner which meets specific and immediate challenges - it is intensive, personal and must be outcomes focused.
A leadership development initiative will only have real and lasting outcomes if the process ensures the internalization of new knowledge (i.e. the leader functions with new insight in what is more effective and beneficial for the whole) with regards to leading himself, leading change and leading others.
The three essential questions that leaders should be able to answer their followers convincingly are:
1. How will you model excellence to us?
In other words, what is you example of character, courage, integrity and personal mastery?
2. Where will you take us?
In other words, what do you see as our destination and how we will get there?
3. How will you engage us?
In other words, how will you create an environment of inspiration, care, growth and discipline for all of us?
To grow as a leader demands on-going introspection, reflection, listening to and learning from feedback.
Lifelong learning
Real leaders are not those who had one success story and then try to repeat it over and over again with nothing new to add. They are not those who sit back, fold their arms and declare that there is nothing left for them to learn - nothing of importance at least. To the contrary, real leaders are those people who over a lifetime were able to adjust and find new ways of applying themselves; new wisdom to go forward with, as well as new inspiration to overcome the challenges.
Indeed, as JF Kennedy realized, leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. Not only is the ‘know it all’ attitude a sign of flawed leadership, but learning in itself is a process of leading. The word ‘leadership’ implies the risk of going first. It implies new territory. It implies change. It implies learning.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Gerhard van Rensburg has been practicing as a full-time leadership and executive coach since 2002. His coaching focus is the development of leadership. He published two leadership books, The Leadership Challenge in Africa, and Leadership Thoughts. He strongly believes that we need to be lifelong learners in the areas of our vision, character and relationships. Growth in these areas form the foundation to our career and leadership growth. His approach in coaching is to partner with people as a facilitator of their growth, particularly as leaders in the workplace – thereby optimizing potential and positive results. In doing so he integrates the various relevant contexts and perspectives.

He developed an online leadership development program in 2012/3 named '32 Leadership Principles to unlock your potential' (