Every Business Leader will say that we are living in turbulent times and the pace of change has increased. The business environment is characterised by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA), disruptions due to new technology & innovative ideas, talent disruptions due to new required skills like AI/IOT/Machine Learning, shifts in globalization trends, drastic changes in business cycles, multi-generational workforce and more. We can keep on adding the umpteen numbers of challenges faced by businesses in the 21st century.
In this background one of the challenges that organizations face is how to develop leaders for turbulent times. This means several issues – how do we identify leaders with the right skills from the market, how do we develop leaders inside the organization, what leadership skills need to be developed, what approaches will have the best impact and more. Inspite of years of experience and available knowledge leadership development continues to be a critical challenge and space of investment for organizations. A white paper presented by Oliver Wyman, Mercer and Marsh & McLennan identifies the evolving leadership model as one of the top 5 challenges facing Human Resources in 2020-25. So what can we do to develop leaders who can lead in turbulent times? I am sharing inputs from several thought leaders for your reflection.
Circular Vision – Odilon Almeida, President, Americas & EU Region for Western Union, shares the need for leaders to develop a circular vision – which is about anticipating the unexpected. This is so true in a turbulent market where the line of sight is limited and we are not able to see around the corners. So a circular vision helps the leaders to be open for opportunities, anticipate crisis, manage change and be ready not only as a leader but the organization also to be ready for any change.
Entrepreneurial Spirit – Odilon Almeida, President, Americas & EU Region for Western Union, shares the need for leaders to have an Entrepreneurial Spirit. This is such a critical need at a time when both effectiveness & efficiency, cost-effectiveness, understanding and responding to market and internal opportunities and delivering value for the stakeholders have become basic foundational requirements for leadership & business success.
Embracing Change & Staying Grounded – Melanie Greenberg in her article in Psychology Today is referring to the need for leaders to Embrace Change and Staying Grounded. In my mind both are required and a leader needs to know how to balance both. While the ability to embrace and being ahead of the change is critical, being grounded while embracing change is critical for leaders.
Agile & Digital Business Skills – Towers Watson in their Perspectives on Developing the 21st Century Leader shares the need for leaders to have Agile and Digital Business skills. The ability to transform organizations to become agile so that the organization can respond to any change in the environment and at the same time leverage the power of digitisation & leverage new technologies have become critical needs.
Constructive Depolarizing – The Center for Creative Leadership articulates the need for leaders to be good at bringing together people from diverse backgrounds/cultures and achieving constructive engagement. This is such an important skill as a time when organizations are having a multi-cultural and multi-generational workforces and the need exists to create an inclusive environment to get the best results.
Smart Mob Organizing – The Center for Creative Leadership articulates the need for leaders to have the ability to engage social networks in organizations by leveraging technology. Technology can be such a powerful tool to engage people in organizations – be it through mobile phones, web chats or anonymous polls. The skill is in being able to choose the right medium for the right purpose.
Bio-empathy – The Center for Creative Leadership articulates the need for leaders to have the ability to look at things from nature’s perspective. Just visualize how the world will be different of all the leaders have bio-empathy – organizations will be more planet friendly and will strive to ensure that they impact the society positively.
Out-Centric – Gary Morgan writes in his article in Fast Company talks about leaders to shift from being ego-centric to out-centric – being more focused on the people around them and focused on developing them. It’s about understanding the self-actualization needs of the people in their teams and helping them to achieve those needs.
ROWE Focus – Gary Morgan in his article in Fast Company refers to the need for leaders to focus on ROWE – Results Only Work Environment. The shift is to focus more on what results and output than on anything else.
While I picked these critical skills from several sources and shared with you, leaders will have to continue to excel in the enduring skills of Self-awareness, Emotional Intelligence, High Trust, Humility, Execution and Business skills. So now we know the skills that leaders will need to lead in turbulent times. The question is how we develop them. Our Leadership development Certification program is focused on helping participants to learn the how of leadership development and you could reach out to us for a consultation on how to develop leaders in your organization.
Ragland Thomas G