It’s a new year but one thing that hasn’t changed: Change itself is happening fast in good ways, challenging ways and ways that have yet to be defined.
As Vantage Leadership Consulting revisited its strategy toward the end of 2015, leadership consultants interviewed thought partners and clients to get a feel for what was going on in their business. The responses varied but a recurring theme surfaced.
“We spoke to about 30 companies, and one of the things that surprised us was how many of the people we spoke to talked about their business model was under attack,” said Keith Goudy, managing partner, in an email.
Few organizations haven’t been confronted by disruption that demands innovation and requires a change in behavior and, in some cases, a complete upend of the product or service the business was built to deliver. This year and beyond, it’s crucial that leaders are able to handle the increasing speed, complexity and scale of business, Goudy said, and thought leadership is key. “Leaders and managers are expected to contribute to the strategy or policy debate in terms of how does the organization goes forward.”
Leaders have to have something they can contribute to the conversation with regard to vision and direction, be it from a 30,000-ft. view or one that is closer to the ground. They need a perspective that brings value.
This leader makes conversations better and is sought after when people need to solve problems or think about the future, Goudy said. “They’re terrifically smart, and if they’re not innovative, they have a way of bringing innovation into the business and are good at managing innovation and complexity.”
In this new business equation, scale can be addressed through sound management and rigorous businesses processes, but it is the speed and complexity part of this shifting environment that require something different — organizations must hire or promote people based on their potential to handle these attributes.
Goudy offered steps organizations can build into their learning strategy to, while dealing with present market realities — volatile as they are — prepare up-and-coming leaders now to be ready for the future. They include:
Project learning:Get high-potentials to solve real-time business problems that require thought leadership.
Cross-functional teams: Place high-potential employees on these teams so they can get exposure to and work with other thought leaders.
Mentors and role models: Through relationships with leaders who thrive on building organizational capability, high-potential employees can develop a mindset to leave things better than they found them in terms of people and process.
“We’ve seen that it can be very difficult to teach people to operate with an enterprise mindset,” Goudy said. “They need to understand how what they do creates an economic value for the overall business, or how a solution works on a global level.”
“Big Leader” learning:Goudy said it’s important for high potentials to understand being a “big leader” as it relates to personal accountability — like taking action to account for changing market conditions in spite of obstacles — being a role for collaboration and operating with confidence while demonstrating humility rather than arrogance.