I was ruminating about the last 15 years or so of my career the other day. I have gone from working in hospitality to real estate; from working for a large multinational to a family business; from being based in Australia to Hong Kong and Japan; and from being an employee to running my own leadership practice. I have had bosses, good and bad and I’ve been a boss. And let’s be honest, I’ve also been good and bad. I have developed leaders all over the world in the last decade and it got me thinking.
When it comes to leadership, what has changed?
I believe the fundamentals of leadership haven’t changed. For me, at its very core, leadership comes down to two things: conversations and relationships.
But the world around us, and with that our leadership landscape, has changed. Leaders are struggling to find the right approach to managing younger workforces (welcome to leadership GenZ), leading remote and distributed teams and maintaining employee engagement in a constantly disrupted world of work.
‘The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small. It will be the fast beating the slow.’ – Rupert Murdoch.
How are leaders and organisations impacted?
I have identified these main factors, called the 5 Megatrends affecting organisations and leaders in the 21st Century:
I dive deep into these megatrends in my book Lead the Future. Order your copy of my book here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for leaders and organisations to not only react to change, but to foresee and lead change effectively to stay ahead of the competition, navigate complex environmental issues and keep employees engaged. The World Economic Forum states in this article that there is a need for leaders to shift from traditional approaches to systems thinking.
Here are some challenges that are often mentioned when I work with organisations:
- “We have lost some of our best people in the last few months and we fear that more employees are looking for new jobs. Retention is our number one goal, and we have to upskill our managers to help with keeping our high potentials.”
- “A number of our employees have gone to work for our competition. Employee experience is a real issue in our organisation.”
- “We have been losing touch with people now that most employees are working from home. Using virtual platforms works technically but we need to focus on virtual leadership too and offer development to forge those deep connections and feeling of belonging.”
- “In our new hybrid workplace structure, we are offering flexibility for all employees to decide when to work from home or the office. But it hasn’t translated into our business yet. Our leaders struggle to have the right conversation with their people to offer flexibility in way of autonomy whilst ensuring expectations and organisational goals are met.”
- “We talk about developing our leaders but have yet to find the right program to equip them with the power skills they need right now. We need to see real outcomes that result in a cultural shift.”
Do these ring true for you or your organisation?
I believe the solution lies in empowering our leaders to lead the future.
Humans are at the heart of any company; they keep the cogs turning, drive growth and achieve organisational goals by engaging people. Employees want to work for companies with a strong purpose, where they can connect with others and have the opportunity to develop and grow.
Positive employee experience has become key to retaining and developing people, but organisations are feeling the pressure to respond to disruption and equip their leaders with the skills and tools they need to help lead the future.
You won’t be able to lead the future without mastering the fundamentals first. It’s like peeling an onion and starting from the core. We need a structured approach in equipping our leaders with the right skills to help them increase engagement, lead change and lead the future. These skills are based on the 4 Pillars of Leadership:
I am working with a leadership team of a product design firm who are expanding globally. It’s a very competitive industry that also offers great opportunities in the field of innovation and AI. They have engaged me to help grow and develop the team. We were talking about how they can expand, add headcount and stay ahead over the next 10 years. They first seemed surprised when I asked ‘What about you? Before focussing on the expansion and entering a new market, how good are you at self-leadership and leading your teams?’ They hadn’t thought of that. The focus had been on leading change and leading the future.
They had experienced this before. They weren’t ready to drive change as they were lacking the human skills to communicate and influence, lead with emotional intelligence and set expectations and ask for accountability through feedback. An earlier planned expansion had been stopped in its tracks as they had neglected to engage and empower their leaders. So we went back to basics and started with the middle of the onion: lead self and lead others.
Over the next 8 weeks, I will dive deeper into the 4 pillars of leadership and share insights, success stories and skills for each pillar every fortnight. Let’s start with: Lead Self.
The leadership program we ran with the client mentioned above is called ‘Lead the Future’ a 6 months transformational leadership program to empower your leaders to drive growth through engagement. Take a look at the program here.
2022 will come with new challenges and more change and I encourage you to ask yourself:
Are you empowering your leaders to lead the future?
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help.