The Leadership Shift
How leaders need to change how they lead to succeed.
The demands on leadership have changed over recent years, but many leaders have failed to adapt how they lead to adapt to the new environment we find ourselves working in. In part this is because the words leadership and management are often used interchangeably. In fact, they are very different but are complementary. In essence the difference between the two is that leadership copes with change and people, management copes with complexity and resources.
Today most businesses are over-managed and under-led. They are good at dealing with complexity and resources, but they are weak when it comes to dealing with people and change. Part of this problem has been historical in that for many years businesses operated in a relatively static environment, and having a management focus made sense.
The World of VUCA
Now we are in an environment of accelerating change. We are experiencing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) at an unprecedented level and rate. In short, it is the work of a leader and not a manager. It is a case of the old adage – what got you here won’t get you there! You can no longer rely on what you have done to get you what you got going ahead.
VUCA is an environment which leaders have to embrace and understand. It is driven by accelerating changes in technology and its application; demographic shifts as the world expands and begins to age; globalization as people, businesses, industries and markets become increasingly interconnected and interdependent; and increasing regulation as institutions try to keep up with the speed of change and anticipate future trends. The four elements of VUCA can be summarised as:
1. Volatility – the rate, amount, and magnitude of change.
2. Uncertainty – the amount of unpredictability inherent in issues and events.
3. Complexity – the amount of dependency and interactive effect of multiple factors and drivers.
4. Ambiguity – the degree to which information, situations, and events can be interpreted in multiple ways.
A balance of good leadership and good management is required to grow and thrive in these challenging times. As already noted, most businesses are over-managed and under-led – making them well run but bureaucratic and unable to change quickly. In a world of VUCA this is not only not sustainable, but it puts the business at risk. By having both strong management and strong leadership the business is not only well-run but able to innovate and adapt to changes in the business environment.
Leadership needs to deal with VUCA by providing vision, clarity, understanding and agility. These four elements constitute VUCA Prime. The old style of leadership (Leadership 1.0 – command and control and all that it entails) has been superseded by Leadership 2.0 (the ability to adapt, collaborate and leverage). For leaders it is not about having the competencies to lead, but it is about how they lead and develop themselves and others.
The VUCA Prime Model
Each of the four elements in the VUCA Prime addresses, individually and collectively, the four elements of VUCA. The four elements here include:
1. Vision – having a clear picture of the purpose of your business and where you are going.
2. Understanding – the leader takes the time to stop, look and listen to what is happen, this is beyond their functional expertise and beyond just their business.
3. Clarity – the leader needs to spend the time and effort in deliberately working to make sense of the chaos that exists.
4. Agility – the ability to communicate openly across the organization and to move quickly to apply solutions, the rapid prototyping of ideas & actions to develop solutions.
By developing and excelling in these areas, and cascading these abilities at all levels and to all people in your business, you have the opportunity not to grow just the business, but to grow your people and their ability to leverage the world of VUCA, to take advantage of opportunities, and to develop significant competitive advantage.
The key to making this shift from reacting to VUCA to proactively coping with VUCA is in how you lead and, in turn, how the leaders you develop will lead in turn. The focus here is not on your leadership skills, but how you use your leadership skills – this is a developmental challenge. The key paradigm shifts are listed in the table below.
So what are you going to do to change how you lead, and how you can develop leaders at all levels? If you want to find out more about how to develop your leaders and your leadership pipeline; how to improve your individual, team and business performance; how to gain competitive advantage; and how to capitalise on opportunities before your competitors then contact Andrew Cooke as below. You may also be interested in subscribing to the free Growth & Profit Solutions blog at www.growthandprofit.me and access a wealth of useful business articles, and to get automatic updates on new postings.
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