In the context of seemingly endless volatility, the pandemic has led many of us to pause in order to reassess what it really takes to win in this new era of business. What leadership attributes are needed right now to create a sustainable competitive advantage?
In the past, it was enough to be a thoughtful and deliberate manager, executing a plan with precision and accuracy. Today, however, leaders have to embrace a new set of roles and responsibilities to remain relevant and effective. Building on your previous training, let’s explore the five new faces of leadership:
1. Sherpa– The leader of a mountain-climbing expedition’s sole purpose is to help others reach the summit. Sherpa leadership isn’t about individual achievement – you are in your role to serve others – your team, your customers, and your community. If your team knows you are there to help them succeed, they’ll give back far more than any rah-rah speech or management technique of the week.
2. Provocateur – Tip-toeing around deeply entrenched viewpoints is less productive than trying to fry eggs on a hot sidewalk. A key role of great leaders is to challenge everything and be a poking-stick of change. A healthy disdain for the status quo is the hallmark of leaders who shape history. Don’t let fear glue you to conventional wisdom.
3. Futurist– Aiming our efforts at last year’s market data will yield a surefire miss. Effective leaders must clearly articulate a compelling vision of what lies ahead, and ensure their organizations are ready to seize it when that window opens. Imagine all the possibilities, and never allow the past to restrict your imagination.
4. Storyteller – Getting your message to stand out and be heard above the noise can be tougher than running a four-minute mile. Make sure you’re crafting your story – to both internal and external audiences – in such a compelling way that it cannot be ignored. You must communicate your purpose and a clear plan of how you’ll get there if you expect your team to leap forward with urgency and alignment.
5. Speed Demon– The world of getting things 100% right before hitting the market is long over. Today, we must execute and problem solve with ferocious speed, making regular adjustments in real-time. Complete business cycles can now last weeks instead of years. Accordingly, we must build a culture that embraces speed in all aspects of business – from innovation to customer delivery to hiring to technological advances. On the highway, speed kills. In business, speed wins.
We all know that the surest path to obsolescence is hugging the status quo. It’s time to relinquish the mindsets and techniques of the past in favor of approaches better suited to the challenges of the day. Good leaders may stay the course, but great leaders reinvent.