The perceived role of the business leader has changed over time and the authoritarian role that was once common in the 1950s is no longer appropriate, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. With the business climate changing rapidly, a leader's most important quality is the ability to adapt.

Leadership Roles

According to Changing Minds, leadership roles have evolved from the authoritarian to behavioral (focused on task completion) to situational (focused on the situation at hand). Some factors of great leadership stand the test of time, according to Entrepreneur. These include the ability to innovate, execute projects and present a strong role model for staff. The leadership role that is emerging has been referred to as the Enlightened Warrior. Mark Stevens, author of "Your Management Sucks," is quoted in the Entrepreneur article as promoting decisiveness, insight and a constant willingness to challenge company conventions.

Enlightened Warriors

According to Stevens, the Enlightened leader is always on the lookout for opportunities to implement before the competition does. He takes in information from many sources in order to spot new possibilities. The leader must be a Warrior in that he must have a passion for achieving a goal and a willingness to attack not only the competition, but also any personal weaknesses or weaknesses in the organization. This is not about firing people who aren’t doing the job, but about asking, “'What are we not doing right?' and then acting on it. It's a war on complacency," said Stevens.

New Business Environment

The rapid pace of technological advancement is one reason for new roles in leadership. The agile Enlightened Warrior is informed about the latest technology that might give the organization a competitive advantage. Other changes include the increasing diversity in the American work force and the anticipated shortages of employees as the Baby Boomers move into retirement.

21st Century Leadership Roles

According to Marty Linsky, co-founder of Cambridge Leadership Associates, if a leader has only one skill, it should be adaptability. Market conditions can change practically overnight, according to Linsky, and “The whole idea that change is the norm rather than the exception is not a tweak, but a profound change in your job as a CEO." Leaders will need to build a work environment where employees are encouraged to express themselves and challenge assumptions.

Insight and Judgment

The leader must carefully exercise insight into which changes are truly beneficial and which are not. Self-awareness is another important skill for leaders, and before tackling the challenges of organization leaders are advised to take an honest look at their own strengths and weaknesses.