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Next Gen Leadership 

Eight Keys to Leading Well in a Disrupted Environment

Our world, and therefore our businesses are being disrupted.   We are globalizing, being confronted with constantly changing technology, economic uncertainty and an evolving workforce. Millenials now account for 35% (the largest generation) of the labor force, as of 2017.[1]

What tools do we need to compete?  Are our next generation leaders capable of handling the complexity they will face?    Perhaps, most importantly for our organizations (and our careers) to remain relevant, we must each to answer the question, “What can we uniquely do that the world of tomorrow needs?[2]How might we disrupt ourselves before we are disrupted?”

 Are you and the leaders in your organization ready?  How may we support teams so that they are empowered to create value?

Unfortunately, a one-size fits all leadership strategy does not exist.  What is needed for leadership success varies case by case.  According to a 2014 McKinsey Quarterly report, “A brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another.”  And as a result, leadership development must also be responsive and specific.

What appears clear to me, is that the four cornerstones of next generation leadership must be present at all levels of an organization for best results.  These include:

·      Strategic agility 

o   Today’s strategic plans must be able to change quickly and be living documents.  The grand mission may not change, but with day-to-day disruption, a strategic plan must be flexible so your team can be responsive.

·      Clear and compelling communication

o   Do stakeholders know what is happening when and why so they can 1) trust the process and 2) respond effectively?

·      Development and connection with others 

o   How well does leadership know, and understand the perspectives of team members?  Where are the landmines in process and people that can be avoided or addressed?  What investment in people should be made?

·      Collaborative skill and process

o   When is collaboration needed, and when is it a waste of time?  How well does leadership understand the needs of all stakeholders: customers, board members, staff, and vendors?  How can leadership mine stakeholder perspective for new ideas and solutions to tomorrow’s opportunities?

These four cornerstones are built on an even deeper foundation:

·      Clear Purpose and Meaning

o   Why are we here and what does it matter?  This question is relevant for the entire organization as well as for every project.

·      Alignment on Priorities and Responsibility 

o   Do we agree that we are working on the right things and who is contributing what at what time in the process?  Without focus and accountability, implementation can be delayed, or flawed.

·      Empowerment of others

o   How is leadership encouraged at all levels of the organization so the right things get done at the right time?  Delegating authority allows leadership time to contemplate and explore areas that are outside of the urgency of immediate projects.

·      Transparency

o   How many team members know where the organization stands, what is needed for success, how it is measured? Do they know when it is needed and why it is important?  Without that insight, how can a manager fully participate in and feel committed to creating a solution?

How does your organization think about these factors?  Where is the organization strong, and where are the gaps?  And perhaps, most importantly, how can an organization address gaps so the team can deliver next generation thinking and execution?

Each of these dimensions can be measured and improved.  If you believe your team is underperforming versus  their potential, investigating each of these areas can assist you in creating a leadership development program that gets you the returns that you desire.

 

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/

[2]  Henley Business School Global Research Report: Tomorrow’s Leadership and the Necessary Revolution in Today’s Leadership Development, by Professor Peter Hawkins