Leadership in a Changing World
In our post COVID world where many organisations are operating a hybrid or remote working model, the demands for effective leadership is high.
The ability to create certainty amidst uncertainty is a skill in itself. To lead people and organisations through the unknown, a place where many of us feel uncomfortable. The American army coined the word VUCA, whilst training soldiers to go into war zones. It means volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Leaders today need to be able to navigate a VUCA business environment. This requires the ability to create fit-for-purpose teams with clear mandates, ambitious goals and a shared sense of purpose. This can be achieved in the planning stage in the form of the development of a team charter as the new team comes together. This sets a strong foundation for building mutual trust and respect. Which in turn leads to mutual accountability and high performance.
The most critical task for new executive leader or CEO is to build trustworthy relationships with their team, the business and key stakeholders. People want to know that what they do matters. They want to be part of a success story. They need recognition for a job well done and timely feedback where improvements or change is needed. Setting a strong foundation at the beginning sets the team and the business up for success. This gives a sense of achievement and creates intrinsic motivation. Development of a team charter with clear operating guidelines is a good place to start.
The leaders ability to use power wisely and influence with integrity is another criteria. This requires a high level of emotional intelligence – EQ, healthy self-esteem and finely tuned self -awareness. Without which, the leader can drift into their shadow side and the use of coercive power (Say more here about power styles) which is fueled by ego, need for status and self-importance. The latter is not sustainable, needs continuous reinforcement and usually results in loss of engagement, respect and trust. Mutual trust is the key ingredient in creating psychological safety where people can take risks, change course, adjust actions and experiment till they find the right solutions.
Adaptive Leadership defined by Ron Heifetz has at its heart, four key elements:
This is the ability to learn through reflection, lead with empathy and create win -win solutions in order to navigate the complexity of our VUCA business environments.
What has made leaders successful to this point will no longer continue to make them successful in the future. Our world is changing rapidly and so must we. A flexible mindset coupled with the willingness to change old habits and ways of working is needed to find answers to the wicked problems we are facing. Working innovatively and in collaboration with others requires not just the willingness to experiment with new ways of doing things, it also requires courage to disrupt norms and challenge the boundaries of the known.
Frank Lloyd Wright said “an expert is a man who has stopped thinking because he knows.”