I don’t need a crystal ball to see what will be required of leaders in the future. All I need to do is look around.
Most of the companies I work with these days are multi-national. They are expanding, becoming larger and more complex as they seek to establish a presence in new markets.
These changes require some new sets of leadership skills. I believe these skills will soon be required of leaders in all types of organizations. Driven by technology, our interconnection and inter-dependence as individuals, as companies, and as countries are expanding exponentially.
I do need a crystal ball to see if leaders will adopt these skills – because some of them require significant shifts.
1. Painting a very clear picture of where the organization is going.
Because leaders cannot be physically present to manage and control, the only way they can be sure their people are working in a concerted effort is to create a shared vision, guiding values and clearly articulated strategies. Although a lot of lip-service has been given to this subject, less than 10% of the companies we’ve surveyed and observed have a clear vision that is really understood and embraced throughout the company. As companies continue to expand, lack of a guiding framework will cause more serious problems unless leaders at all levels understand this is one of their primary responsibilities.
2. Managing the Mid-Space.
It used to be that strategy was the province of the top of the organization, and the bottom was responsible for execution. We have learned this disconnects leaders from the realities of the organization. Leaders at all levels need to think both strategically and tactically. “Managing the Mid-Space” describes seven things leaders need to do to connect the mid-space between the vision and execution.
3. Developing leadership capacity.
The development of leadership capabilities is a business issue. There is no longer a separation between soft and hard. Leaders need to understand that they are responsible not only for business results but also for developing future leaders. Therefore they must hold their people as accountable not only for delivering results but also for how they accomplish them.
4. Valuing and effectively utilizing diversity.
We must shift from traditional approaches to solving problems to utilizing the perspectives that others bring because of their gender, nationality, etc. If there is any question in your mind about this, watch this wonderful video clip of Halla Tomasdottir‘s Ted Talk on December, 2010 on how her financial services firm used 5 traditionally “feminine values” to help Iceland recover from their economic collapse in 2008. Tomasdottir emphasizes that feminine is not better than traditional male. We must adopt a “both/and” mentality and embrace the richness that is missing.
5. Influencing without direct reporting relationships.
As companies expand and become more complex, no matter what organizational structure is in place, people must work with each other across reporting lines. A leader will no longer be able to say, “Do it because I told you so.” Your ability to influence is dependent on your credibility and character.
6. Collaborating across boundaries.
One person cannot have all the answers, nor can one group. The complexities of the organizations and the challenges they face demand that work be organize around the right people, regardless of what department they reside. Silos didn’t work well before. They are impossible in this world.
7. Using technology to manage at a distance.
Technology has created many of these challenges. It also holds the answer. Nothing will ever replace the value of face-to-face time, but the reality is that most teams will be working together at great physical distances.
8. Driving profits through principles and values.
Organizations are made up of people. When we take a big picture and long-term view, we cannot afford to treat employees as commodities. For organizations to be effective and sustainable in the long-term, leaders must take into account the social and environmental impact of their actions.