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Is Your Organizational Leadership Fit for Now and the Future

Does your organization:

  • “Hummm” like a finely tuned machine and create the standards for your competition?
  • Skillfully meet the challenging realities of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in our global economy?
  • Respond to change and disruption as a rule rather than an exception?
  • Have real teams that behave like teams?

If “yes,” Congratulations!! You can stop reading here.

If “no,” or you’re not sure, keep reading for a way toward what you want.

What Keeps You from Having the Organization You Want?

In a study of leadership development needs for the future, Peter Hawkins* states that “nearly all senior leaders reported that they did not have enough time or adequate support structures to keep learning” (16). You might be like them. You are plenty busy with your day-to-day work and barely have time to keep your head above water, much less reaching the cutting edge of the learning needed in the ever-changing global context of business. And, if you don’t do the work, who will? It seems you can’t move fast enough to keep up, and it’s overwhelming. Who has time to plan to learn more and then do it?

You May Not Know How Leadership Has Changed

If you are trapped in a situation where you lack support and can’t find time to learn, then you may not be aware that the leadership qualities needed and the leadership development paradigm for business has changed (note past tense) as demanded by the global climate in which organizations find themselves. If you are unaware of this change or fail to respond in light of it, this could not only be a block to your progress but could take you and your business out of the race entirely.

Many with whom I work are operating under an antiquated leadership paradigm from the industrial age (which is consistent with Hawkins’ findings [43]) rather than engaging the collective leadership paradigm that is needed today. Using the old approach would undoubtedly be less complicated than using full collaborative teams. But, sticking with that old approach in today’s context can cause your employees and customers to feel unsettled, confused, and lacking confidence in leadership.

Exactly What’s Changed

Keywords of reference for this new paradigm can shed light on what’s changed. Among them are:

  • Networks
  • Collaboration
  • Connection
  • Flexibility
  • Participatory
  • Partnerships
  • Stakeholders
  • Adaptability
  • Community
  • Reinvention
  • Learning


How Must Leadership Purpose Transform?

Hawkins’ research on leadership development indicates leadership must transform in a number of ways if a business is to stay viable. (see the list at the end of this article)* I want to focus a single goal for transformation on which I believe all of the others depend.

Leadership must transform to the leader as developer. Leadership must increasingly become less hierarchical in nature and more about the skill of enabling a collaborative co-creative process among peers. (17) Some CEOs interviewed for the research had these things to say about the leader as developer:

I will never have enough time to focus on the future and the stakeholders unless I can develop the other people in the company to be skilled and confident enough to run the day-to-day by themselves. (22)

As leaders, we are accepting that our job today and tomorrow is to create such learning, creative, exploratory environments for our people. This type of leadership requires self-awareness, emotional intelligence, the ability to relate with varied, diverse stakeholders, and be skilled enough to use multiple leadership approaches in different multi-dimensional situations – blending coaching with directive, and reflective with assertive. (23)

How Must Leadership Development Transform?

In order to meet the new paradigm, leadership development efforts need to: (28)

  • Focus more on collective, collaborative leadership throughout the line and staff of the organization. According to Hawkins, leader development is not the same as leadership development. The former is individual development of people in senior roles, the latter is the development of collective, collaborative leadership. Leader development is focused on increasing human capital, whereas leadership development is focused on creating social capital. (30) This is the leadership paradigm of today and will be so for the foreseeable future.
    . . . leadership does not exist outside of multiperson relationships, and therefore leadership does not reside inside individual leaders. (30)
  • Train toward an emphasis on shared purpose. Here’s a quote from a CFO who participated in the research:
    Purpose replaces strategy in many ways… People won’t be saying, “What’s the plan we’re following?” They’ll be saying, “What’s the purpose? What’s the thing that guides me?” [bold mine] (30)
  • Train toward increasing social capital (the ability of people to connect, relate, and work together synergistically). Many of the leaders interviewed referenced the issue that the challenges do not lie in the individuals I lead, but in the connections between them. [bold mine] (19)
    We used to focus on changing what was happening in the space between our people’s ears. Now we have to focus on changing what is happening between people’s noses.
    — Senior HR professional
    (reported by Hawkins in the Global Team Coaching Institute Webinar)
  • Train leaders to think critically, identify trends, understand change, and to be effective problem-solvers.
  • Create value for the organization and its stakeholders and align leadership development with the strategic agenda of the organization.
  • Focus on growing leader maturity that includes increasing their ability to continually re-invent their thinking and ways of relating, increasing self-reflexiveness, and embrace systemic and ethical complexity while engaging diversity and differing world views. Follow this with skills training and not vice versa. (32)
  • Be rigorously evaluated.
    The old linear learning methodologies are no longer fit for purpose in the fast-paced, volatile, and unpredictable world in which organizations operate today. (33)

An Easy-To-Access to a Robust Solution

True Course can provide customized support and guidance as you bring your leadership development into the 21st century and prepare for the decades to come. Just a phone call or email can start you on the way. In the process,

  • You will build collaborative teams whose performance is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • Situate leadership development into the ongoing work of collective leadership in teams.
  • See your teams move more quickly from talking into action.
  • Create habits and rituals which lead to change and reinvention.
  • Will integrate team coaching into the culture of your organization.

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If You Access the Solution and If You Don’t

If you engage True Course as a resource and do some hard work, you’ll find your organization moving to a cutting-edge team-centered approach that you can measure and is an essential advantage in today’s business environment. You will be developing leadership. Hear from Patrick Lencioni:

Not finance. Not Strategy. Not Technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.
Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, p. vii.

If you don’t engage True Course (or somebody) to support you in this, you will most likely stay where you are – frustrated, strung-out, not learning. Sitting still or doing the usual routine can mean certain death of your company. And, the pace of change will only increase.

So don’t wait. Let’s talk about what is now and what could be for you and your organization.

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Hawkins’ research names these items as emerging leadership tipping points in changing the leadership paradigm. Leadership needs to transform in the following ways in order “to be fit for our future world.” (17)

  • From “leading my people” to “orchestrating business ecosystems.” (17).
  • From “heroic” to “collective and collaborative” leadership. (18)
  • To purpose and values-driven leadership that creates value for all stakeholders. (19)
  • From serial and fragmented innovation to three simultaneous time frames (today, tomorrow, future). (20)
  • Embracing multiple individual diversity and systemic diversity. (21)
  • To leader as developer.
  • To give attention and action to motivation, millennials, and mobility.
  • Recognize that there is no place to hide – There is a necessary ethical maturity needed for living in a transparent world. Such transparency is the natural result of interconnectedness and living in the public eye.
    To create successful partnerships and networks. (25)

* Hawkins, P. (16 August 2017) “Tomorrow’s Leadership and the Necessary Revolution in Today’s Leadership Development.” Global Research Report. Hawkins is a Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School in the UK. He did his research with CEOs, other executives, and HR professionals in 40 companies worldwide as well as thought leaders in the field. The numbers in parenthesis throughout this article are references to his report. Download the research report here.

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