Over the past several years, I’ve witnessed the decline of courageous leadership in American enterprise. Rather than welcome change in order to evolve, leaders are playing it safe. Where are the leaders with the strategic focus and wisdom to take a leap of faith and the tenacity to find new ways of doing things?
#5: Leaders Must Design Corporate Cultures And Build Teams For The Wisdom-Based Economy
In 2016, leaders must finally move away from the traditional workplace model that promotes a top-down, hierarchical, departmental, siloed, one-size-fits-all mentality. Leaders must begin to accept that we are transitioning from a knowledge-based to a wisdom-based economy. It’s not just about what you know, but what you do with what you know. This mindset will allow leaders to stop unknowingly creating work environments infused with tension, as they learn to embrace and promote diversity of thought.
Without strategy, change is merely substitution, not evolution. When leaders have more intimate knowledge of the business, their team-building and workplace culture design will be focused on continuously evolving with the end-game in mind.
#4: Leaders Must Avoid “Substitutional Thinking” That Slows Progress Down
It’s becoming less about the business defining the individual and much more about the individual defining the business. The minute leaders stop touching the business, they stop understanding the impact that individuality can have on the evolution of the business. Leaders must embrace a new type of thinking that helps organizations reach higher levels of influence to ensure the overall business evolves and its leaders stay ahead of the rapid changes taking place to compete in the global marketplace. Leaders must break free of substitutional thinking (old templates) that slow progress down and make it difficult to measure workplace, strategic partnership and marketplace evolution and create distinct competitive advantage.
Business evolution requires leaders to continually identify, enable and leverage the full potential of their teams, partnerships, and client relationships. They must take ownership and be courageous enough to see beyond the obvious to avoid complacency; to anticipate the unexpected to ensure that circumstances don’t force their hand; to explore endless possibilities in search of previously unseen opportunities; to invest in relationships and maximize the utilization of resources to be more strategic and efficient; to build new ecosystems to strengthen the organization’s intellectual capital and momentum; and to lead to leave a legacy of significance and sustained success.
#3: Leaders Must Create New Areas For Growth Through The Cultural Demographic Shift
Leaders must prepare and commit themselves to invest in the seismic cultural demographic shift — the last remaining true growth opportunity. At its core, this is change management requiring a new layer of intelligence that embraces the strategic implications of cultural fluency and intelligence, innovative team-building, marketing strategies, global competitiveness, and the new requirements for talent acquisition and consumer engagement.
We must move away from the tactical approach of viewing diversity as a cost center, which clouds growth, slows progress down, and makes your business vulnerable to new – and less traditional thinking – competitors. The new way forward is to guide our organizations to be more diverse in their thinking and to broaden their observations to create new profit centers for strategic growth – where talent and market development represent two sides of the same coin. You may only see one side at a time, but they must co-exist because they are unavoidably connected.
#2: Leaders Must Break Free From Their Identity-Crisis To Maximize Their Potential And That Of Others
Leaders must develop and manage their leadership identity – the unique distinguishing factors they are known for and that can be consistently expected of them to fuel workplace engagement and propel growth. Without a strong identity, leaders unknowingly create tension; when they become self-satisfied and complacent, they lose touch with people – and how to maximize their full potential to drive success in the workplace, amongst external partners, and in the marketplace.
Leaders must be proactive about discovering the full potential in others, and equally in themselves, in order to define their leadership identity. People begin to understand how their leadership identity influences the evolution of the business when they can articulate the unique ways they think, what gives their leadership distinction, the impact their presence creates and what it is they serve. A strong leadership identity can provide clarity and alignment throughout the organization even as it leverages the unique differences in people to see and seize opportunities previously unseen.
# 1. Leaders Must Identify And Close Opportunity Gaps With Greater Speed And Agility
Leaders must identify and close opportunity gaps that are ever-widening as their organizations unknowingly mismanage competitive threats, unforeseen trends, and what they should be solving for in their business. When organizations work in silos, leaders are not intimate enough with the business. Slow to serve the unique needs of the changing workplace and marketplace, leaders gravitate towards the same thinking and behavioral tendencies that are putting their business at risk. Opportunity gaps are created when leaders are not innovative enough, when they conform to the old ways of doing things, and when they lack the self-trust to evolve.
The combination of these four skills will allow leaders and their organizations to see what others don’t, do what others won’t, and keep pushing when prudence says quit.
One of my mentors recently encouraged me to memorize the following quote – and I share it with you to do the same:
“One cannot compare the leader who knows the path, to the one that takes a step and then two towards it.”
It will take great leadership in 2016 and beyond to keep organizations on the right path and continuously improving and evolving with the rapidly changing workplace and marketplace. Courageous leaders will hold themselves accountable to communicate with transparency and act with authenticity as they serve as change agents and innovators to help the company and its people grow and achieve its goals. As we embark on the new year, it’s time to resolve to take ownership of the burning platforms that are clearly putting our companies at risk, and start creating workplace cultures by design, not by accident.