In a recent conversation, the CEO of a well-run organization expressed this question and it got me thinking – is leadership development addressed sufficiently well by organizations and the owners of the organization?
Let’s begin with the CEO’s question. Common sense thinking would be to have a competent person for the job. But in the era we live in, a continuously changing and evolving landscape of business and competition make things very unpredictable. What kind of competencies would really be needed to navigate the maze becomes the single most important question to really bring about new thinking?
Would past experience and knowledge not be sufficient? Think about, explorations of the space. Would knowledge of having been in space be sufficient to travel to Mars? Very unlikely! Important but not sufficient. One has to apply forward thinking of the unknown challenges and risks and yet be bold enough to actually jump into it. Elon Musk, a very unconventional leader has a penchant to deviate from the normal and take risks. Does every organization need an Elon Musk type leader? Or can they continue to win with proven horses and strategies? Organizations need a blend of both type of leaders, but it’s evident that we will need a bigger pipeline of leaders equipped to deal with the future.
So how do we approach this problem? Clearly current day skills and knowledge will get outdated and organizations will have to reshape on a continuous basis. The question is not when but how? Building agility and strategic mind-sets, using executive coaching, developing big picture thinking, encouraging creative problem solving, creating inspiring workplaces, leading strategic change are few things the organization’s leaders will need to develop and demonstrate.
In one business review meeting with a client, I asked leaders if they could think what the business landscape would look like after 3-5 years, and their responses made me shudder. The inability to foresee new challenges and taking comfort in the known situations could make the organization and the individual vulnerable to the external environment. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is upon us. Futuristic competitive forces are a good starting point to know if the organizations and it leaders are ready and capable to address them, if not all at least some of them. Having leaders who are not just good in doing what the organization can and wants them to do, but also equipped in doing what its future competitors will do, will define whether the organization will succeed in future or not.
And yes, organizational transformation, leadership and talent development is a continuous journey. An evolution! And it has to happen at an increasing pace because the environment is changing faster than what we might prefer.