PAVE The Way To Better 21st-Century Leadership

Jennifer Morgan

I’ve always believed that business success ultimately comes down to the strength of a leader’s relationships with people.

That’s especially true in today’s fast-paced technology landscape where businesses are forced to navigate radical change, not only annually but every quarter.

Today’s companies need leaders who can see around corners – both inside and outside their organizations. As leaders, we need to understand how our enterprises fit into the context of our customers, our workforce, and the world at large.

I’ve found that a good place to start is to simply force yourself to be present in the moment¬carefully listening to your team, thoughtfully addressing feedback and concerns, and always thinking about innovative ways for your employees to learn and thrive in today’s evolving workplace.

Here are four key qualities I’ve seen that help leaders pave the way to better 21st century leadership:

  1. Perseverance: Setbacks and failures invariably come with the job, but great leaders can pivot and move ahead when they listen to others in building a strategy to persevere. That includes coming together to understand the complexity and nuances of the challenges they face.
  1. Agility: Today’s global economy moves at breakneck speed. To survive and thrive in this rapidly evolving, unpredictable landscape, we all need to be agile and prepared to meet the dynamic needs and demands of the changing enterprise. Great leaders do more than simply adapt; they recognize when failure is inevitable and seize opportunities to innovate to move their organizations forward.
  1. Vulnerability: By vulnerability, I don’t mean weakness. Vulnerability means being open to new ideas even when you’re not quite sure what the outcome will be. It requires thinking differently, working through the opportunities and challenges that come your way, learning from your experiences, and seeking a positive path forward.
  1. Empathy: Each decision we make as leaders is impactful. Putting yourself in your customers’ and employees’ shoes and understanding how your choices affect their lives is what shapes a people-centric work environment that engenders trust, respect, and authenticity. And it’s not enough to just practice these behaviors. Leaders today need to walk the talk, infusing these qualities into their organization’s DNA.

By embracing perseverance, agility, vulnerability, and empathy, you can PAVE the way to better 21st-century leadership and create a dynamic, forward-looking enterprise that’s primed to flourish.


Jennifer Morgan

About Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan is responsible for SAP’s strategy, revenue, and customer success in the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan, regions encompassing more than 43,000 employees and nearly 230,000 customers. Jennifer was appointed to the SAP Executive Board in 2017, and, together with Adaire Fox-Martin, leads SAP’s Global Customer Operations. She is a principal driver of SAP’s growth and innovation strategies and works closely with SAP’s development and support leaders to ensure consistent execution of sales and customer operations in the more than 130 countries in which the company operates. In addition to being a member of the Executive Board, Jennifer serves as president of SAP North America, where she has sharpened the region’s focus on growth and innovation for its more than 155,000 customers, and helps preserve a culture that earned SAP North America its first ever listing on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Jennifer was also instrumental in the region securing its place as a leader in the areas of diversity and inclusion through programs like Autism at Work, and particularly the company’s receipt of EDGE certification – a recognition awarded by the World Economic Forum recognizing the company’s commitment to gender equality and equal pay in the workplace.

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