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On Leadership

May 20, 2013

In today’s ever-changing and turbulent times what type of organisation will bring continued business success and what sort of leaders are needed for this?

Organisations that deliver continued business success are those that constantly strive, and are able, to adapt to their particular changing circumstances. Life and the environment have always changed although, historically, this has been slower so making it easier to evolve and adapt business models to the changes. Leaders were able to think about the situations they found themselves in and take at least some time to reflect and form their responses.

Now, however, in today’s ever-changing and turbulent times leaders have to be able to process information, form views and take decisions much faster than ever before. So what sort of leadership is needed for successful adaptive organisations?

One key characteristic is that ‘power’ is now much more dispersed throughout the firm and with this dispersal individuals need to be able to ‘lead from any chair’ as described by Benjamin Zander. In fact, leadership has probably always been more scattered across an organisation than the formal hierarchy suggests but nowadays this has to be recognised and accepted by all.

So the senior management (or ‘Leadership’) of the organisation need to be able to give people at all levels in the organisation the chance to lead experiments that will help it adapt to changing times. And also people must be able to recognise the points when leadership is required and be able to take those necessary leadership roles regardless of the hierarchical level they inhabit.

So what do leaders need to do?

One key role of leadership is to develop an environment in which the insights gathered both internally and externally, can become information that supports decision making and helps develop portfolio options.

Having done that, they need also need to be able to support and develop creativity and innovation in others (and themselves too!) at the same time as creating an environment in which innovation can come from any part of their team.

And finally they must always strive to develop other leaders so enabling the organisation to keep moving forward.

To find out more about organisational renewal and the necessary leadership skills, go to ‘Beyond Crisis – achieving renewal in a turbulent world’ by Gill Ringland, Oliver Sparrow and Patricia Lustig.

Written by Cathy Dunn, 13 May 1013

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