The New Leadership
Did you miss the news? There’s a new leadership in town!
Take a moment and consider which version or brand of leadership you are using at the moment.
Is it out of date, redundant, out of touch and not meeting the demands of your customers? Or, have your customers and people not changed in the past five, 10 or 15 years? Just think of the arrival of the Millennials – different expectations, values and focus.
Whilst we speed through life, navigating Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA – a military term), it’s a reminder that we need to be flexible in our approach to lead our relationships and interact with technology which we never dreamed of using five years ago.
We need to reinvent our leadership, learn the capabilities of being adaptive and agile according to Dr Simon Hayward, author of Connected Leadership, who skilfully turned his doctoral research into a must read. Incorporating client case studies in his capacity as CEO of Cirrus (International Leadership Consultancy) we travel the many changes which prominent world known businesses have implemented to keep customer focused, profitable and proud of their leadership brand, many of whom have adopted the Connected Leadership framework.
A connected style of leadership leverages off the learnings from previous styles, applying behaviours which meet the demands of the 21st century and departs from 20th century practices of heroic and hierarchical command and control. (Consider placement of car parking spaces – Customer vs. C suite). We need to keep adapting our leadership to keep up with change; in particular with social media, where customer experiences are often played out on the global stage with millions in the audience, exaggerating the effect of the connections.
Given my reading journey, navigating approximately 5000 pages in 18 weeks, I found Simon’s book will summerise what we’re expecting of our leaders in 2016. You can then delve further into content in other books which I’ve recently reviewed – think Making Sense, Adaptive Leadership and Your Leadership Edge.
Being agile, moving quickly and easily, needs a strong spine of clear purpose and direction and a strong sense of shared values with the flexile muscles of colleagues who are empowered to take decisions based on their proximity to customers and a willingness to trust and collaborate.
So, how connected is the leadership in your company? (Spine and Muscle) You can assess your organisation by completing a simple survey in the book. This reinforces the framework helping you mentally measure components of your leadership and business practices. These are the five key factors contributing to a style of leadership suited to this connected world in which we live. Would your customers and people describe your style of leadership which incorporates:
Purpose and direction – a common understanding of why the business exists, helping people make sense of how their roles relates to the purpose of the business.
Authenticity – values, ethics and a behavioural framework are consistently followed with a high level of trust and respect is experienced
Devolved decision making – decision makers are determined on who is best placed, their proximity and relationship with the customer
Collaborative Achievement – there is open dialogue and mutual influence to focus on end to end processes to achieve efficiency, collective merit and a breakthrough of bureaucratic silos to produce new answers to old problems
Agility – fail fast and learn – full stop! Enable people to adapt to changing circumstances, share what they learn and build a culture which supports experimentation (remember continuous improvement) without blame. I contacted Simon and he mentioned that if he were to do a second edition, he’d add some Agile methodologies to help you.
To tweak your style of leadership following this five part framework, I noted in my read that you need to concentrate on these specifics leadership practices:
Sense making – help people understand the importance of what they are doing in the organisation
Storytelling – inspire with your communication to help connect colleagues with strategy
Strong moral compass – be accountable for your behaviours which are based on your values
Share power – delegate decision making to others in your business who are closer to the customer
Self-aware – seek behavioural consistency by tuning into your emotions to manage your reactions
Solicit feedback – receive feedback with good grace and look for any lessons you can take.
Amongst the lessons there were many quotes and I was drawn to - You need to have five fingers touching the factory and five touching the customer. Amancio Ortega is the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, (part of Inditex), which has been operating for over 40 years, has 6,500 stores in 88 countries. Referenced regularly in the book, it’s current and very interesting.
We all have customers in our life, maybe not as many as Zara, and interestingly, Simon’s final chapter is targeted at political leaders: tips on how they can apply the leadership framework to their role. Bravo I say – let’s encourage our local Politicians to read this book to think of their constituents as customers - maybe we should gift the book to each of our representatives.
Whilst it’s clichéd, I think all leaders and better still, those expected to demonstrate leadership, should read this book. It could well lead to aspirations of changing your organisation to becoming more agile and customer driven.
I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!