Lately, I have been getting called out on how Solutions 21 presents 21st-century leadership. On the one hand, we always talk about timeless leadership. On the other hand, we talk about the evolution of leadership. I have had several senior executives challenge me on the positioning. It seems as if we are talking out of both sides of our mouth.

Leadership is truly timeless. Things like honesty, integrity, leading by example, loyalty, feedback, motivation, emotional intelligence, wisdom, decision-making, strategic thinking, (and the list goes on), are all truly timeless characteristics.

What has evolved is the judgment of the execution of all of these characteristics. It is no longer acceptable to half-heartedly execute on these timeless principles. The 21st-century workforce will hold leaders accountable to what they say and what they do far more than previous generations.

Leadership principles are timeless. Leaders have always espoused these characteristics. What has changed, and why leaders need to evolve, is the gap between saying and doing.

The 21st-century will force leaders to be much more authentic than was required in the past. One could “fake it till they make it” in the previous times. Not so anymore. Authenticity is a key driver for the 21st-century workforce.

Another key driver, and a direct outgrowth of the great recession, is the need for transparency. Leaders can no longer hide behind their title and avoid public/employee scrutiny. They must be authentic and constantly “walk the walk.”

This is the evolution of leadership. A leader must be constantly looking to execute on these timeless principles. Being a leader has always been difficult. In the 21st-century, ones’ followers will be monitoring the execution of timeless leadership principles.

In this century, a leader will be held accountable constantly and in real time.