Leadership, A Quantum Leap forward

The writing is indeed on the wall. Disruption is here to stay, whether it be an insurance company now playing as a technology platform provider or a phone manufacturing company now transforming itself into a financial services player or an airline company now repositioning itself as a technology player with some mere aircrafts but with rich data or a simple recruiter now playing in the block chain space with a clear focus of taking on the main stream headhunters in their own back yard. Include into this the estimated USD23 trillion dollars that is being invested into the One Belt One Road initiative by China which has inturn led to a reshaping of regional economics with a direct impact on geo politics. Add into the mix, a lethal dose of the global pandemic of CoViD-19 and we have a bubbling cauldron of the changing face of business. At its very basic level, the expectations and demands of a very different business leader is fast and furiously emerging.

No longer is the leader of tomorrow one who measured by competencies or rating scales of the proverbial “old world”. Collaboration, drive for excellence, performance orientation, pushing for accelerated growth and adaptability are all competencies of the past. Research recently conducted by Korn Ferry has reemphasised the demands that financial investors have of the leaders of the companies that they have invested their money into are extremely different to those requirements of today. So then why, no matter whether you call them disruptive leaders, new age leaders, are we still bound by the characteristics and competencies of yesteryear? A quick review of the literature as well as common organizational leadership practices indicate that much of what is main stream today was developed during the 90s and 2000s though the great works of iconic Gurus such as Kanter, Peters, Ulrich, Kotter, Collins, Prahalad, Hammer and Champy to name a few. What we see today are variants to the great work originated by these Masters. But fascinatingly enough, they are but “variants”.

The 64 million dollar question is then asked, given the massive disruption and uncertainty that we see all around us, impacting us from the way we look at ourselves, at each other, at our business and at our world at large, surely there must be something new that we can look towards when reframing our view of a leader of the 21st century. Whilst demands of our leaders have been significantly altered, the measures, nay the ruler, that we gauge them against remains largely unchanged.

The time is now right for a shift in the way we view our leaders and our leadership team. This is the case no matter whether they be our community leaders, our constituency leaders, our national leaders or the business leaders and board members of our organizations. The days of old are indeed over.

Indepth recent discussions with noted global leadership commentator Professor Sattar Bawani (eminent author of “Transforming the Next Generation of Leaders – Developing Future Leaders for a Disruptive Digital Driven Era of the 4th Industrialisation Revolution”), technologist entrepreneur Peter Lazou, a serial tech entrepreneur in his own right and now a co-founder of the OtherDots Foundation UK and Sharma Lachu, MD of Accendo (a regionally renowned player in the talent profiling space) have confirmed that the days of the specific leadership competencies are fast coming to an end. Instead the focus is now predominantly shifting to Skill-based Leadership ie a powerfully lethal combination of skills, experiences, practical and pragmatic knowledge with a level of wisdom that will inturn drive the future centric results expected of our leaders. What is also clear is that the demands of our leaders have now become significantly larger and even more complex than before.

With the impact of eco-system creation and collaboration in this digital age, it is my considered view that Social Intelligence now takes on a huge center stage role moving forward. It is no longer about knowing self or others but its now about having the skills to effectively manage and capitalise off the social virtual eco-system. This is done whilst creating and supporting the waves of change for the common benefit of all.

Innovation Driving now comprises of skills to forcibly challenge the status quo and in the course of so doing, break at best, or push forward at the very minimum, the boundaries of excellence. In this regard, the skills of addressing what is perceived to be unresolvable challenges comes to play.

Being Engaging and Inspirational is of course a cluster of skills that is fundamental when garnering the support of all to achieve the end-game in question. This will inturn create the galvanising power to drive forward the movement so as to address challenges that are being faced by the eco-system at large.

And finally, Ability to make Impact. The ability to make the positive difference and a lasting impact is critical to the success of leaders in a disruptive age. It is also very clear that not all leaders have the required skills to take their people and organization alike to the “promised” land. To this end, the skills of bringing into play what is needed from others whether they be from outside the organization and to speedily capitalise on the same becomes a make or break event for the organization. The days of long term brain storming, running thoughts by committees for weeks on-end and waiting for board decisions to filter down over the weeks are no longer applicable. Such actions instead have the effect of strangling the business to a point of suffocation, eventual inaction and subsequently “death”. Seamless skills relating to business pivoting and lightning speed of decision making has now become the norm to ensure sustainability and constant growth of the business.

The narrative of staking a claim in the arena of disruption becomes even more real for the leaders of tomorrow. Staring disruption head on and positively responding to it will be the key driver of success for the leadership teams of tomorrow. Shying away from change will have a significantly negative impact on business performance and its future sustainability.

The changes that are shaping the world around us happen almost immediately and has started to leave our leaders with absolutely no time to react. Responses from people and business leaders alike must be viewed as being almost pre-emptive in nature, bringing the best talent, not necessarily owning them, to the table, with the capability to reframe and execute immediately with a vision to create a momentum that will inturn inspire an overarching momentum. As aptly highlighted by a very close friend, “drive forth a stake in the change you desire, else you will be following in the wake of another”.