The Flux Leader---are you one?
Are you a leader who feels the pace quicken? The chaos building? The demands crushing?
A host of new research, as well as evidence mounting from several reliable sources, points to a groundswell of “chaos”—and the wave is likely already having an impact on you and your leadership behavior.
Take, for example, an in-depth study done by IBM, called “Capitalizing on Complexity,” in which 1500 global CEO’s were interviewed (ibm.com/capitalizingoncomplexity). The study, in short, is a self-proclaimed “wake up call,” and not without reason. The common denominator ? Global integration.
They report that this unprecedented level of interconnection and interdependency has created a complex “global system of systems.” The consensus:
· Complexity is the biggest challenge confronting them.
· CEOs don’t feel their enterprises are equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment.
· They identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for organizations trying to find a path through the complexity.
The IBM study’s collective recommendations for survival?
· Embody creative leadership (think “ambiguity, innovation, engagement”).
· Reinvent customer relationships (think “intimacy”).
· Build operating dexterity (think “easy and fast and reliable—and outside the box”).
Examples of brilliantly-managed chaos are getting attention. The latest edition of Fast Company Magazine (November, 2012) features a cover story, “The Secrets of Generation Flux—How to Lead in a Time of Chaos.” It is an echo of the IBM study.
The article features dynamic and successful CEOs who are capitalizing on the chaos. Their mantras support what I’m seeing in the fast-growing, innovative companies I work with. To quote some of the dynamic leaders in the Fast Company story:
“Business needs a cultural DNA that encourages a rhythm of constant reinvention.” Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
“Leadership is about ambiguity. You need a balance between command-and-control and bottom-up. It’s not one or the other.” Padmasree Warrior, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Cisco.
“Conservative tried-and-true strategies are a recipe for disaster in a fast-moving economy. A smarter organization needs multiple, different kinds of brains—of intelligence, rather than specialists.” John Landgraf, President and GM, FX Networks.
“The wisest decisions are made by those closest to the problem—regardless of seniority.” Stanley McChrystal, Retired Four-star General, US Army.
“It’s easier to start with creativity and put structures around that, than the other way around.” Terri Kelly, CEO WL Gore and Associates (10,000 employees)
The IBM study is aligned with their advice. More specifically, it recommends that companies:
· “Pull creative elements out of compartments and integrate them into the mainstream;
· Form unconventional partnerships; Exchange information with inside and outside stakeholders;
· Encourage experimentation, allow rule-breaking innovation;
· Scour technology and customer trends;
· Act despite uncertainty;
· Rely on deeply felt values and a well-defined vision to provide confidence and conviction to exploit opportunities;
· Pilot radical innovations; Think-- what would I do if I were a new entrant with no legacy burden?”
What are you doing to think in “flux?”
Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee-based executive coach, organizational & leadership development strategist. She has a proven track record spanning more than 20 years, and is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Email your question to Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.JoanLloyd.com to search an archive of more than 1400 of Joan’s articles. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates (414) 354-9500. ©Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.
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