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Article: Leadership at the Crossroads

 

In this article, Janice Caplan sets out her ideas on the changing leadership model to suit today's changing business world.

 

Leadership at the crossroads to a new business world

The economic downturn brought into focus just how much the business world is changing. But we are still doing things the old way, with some unintended consequences that obstruct change:-

  • To start with, through the so-called talent wars, we have an over-emphasis on too few staff, at the expense of others. Yet, in the new world, the speed of change in technology, markets and global competition is making roles increasingly inter-connected, so that everyone is pivotal to success.
  • We have a core legacy of inappropriate ‘command and control’ policies. These limit the free flow of information; they slow change while authorisation is sought; and they create departmental and functional silos, blocking collaboration.

In the new world of breathtakingly rapid change, the organisation must have the flexibility to learn, adapt, innovate and create before others. Success demands collaborative working within organisations and with external partners, all working to achieve common goals.

 

Significant change, shaped by leaders’ strategic vision, may emerge from a team or an individual anywhere. The inspiration or insight for a new product or market or way of doing things may come from anyone.

 

The use of new media is changing people’s attitudes: they are more used to sharing information, and more open about themselves, and their work. Leaders must similarly share more information, as well as giving their people leeway to use social media so they get the inspiration from it that leads to innovation.

 

Organization structures are also becoming more complicated and management through close personal supervision and controlling the detail of what and how people do things is mostly impossible.

 

In this new world, the business’s leaders' prime responsibility is to create conditions for collaboration, innovation, and change. This means leaders must create the appropriate culture, act as role models for organisational values, and communicate their vision. This new leadership model replaces ‘command and control’ or paternalism with "shared vision, shared values, shared understanding" ...

 

Janice Caplan, Direzione del Personale June 2011

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People in business today want outstanding learning and development, when they need it, at a time that suits them, and delivered in a manner that fits their learning styles and preferences. Businesses need people to come to grips with new challenges quickly. There is no time for catch up and it is vital to quickly decide which strategic opportunity to take advantage of, and then be able to act quicly. This requires a deep understanding of your people, and who has the potential and the aspiration to take on a particular challenge. It requires a workforce that is constantly learning and developing in line with the business needs on the horizon.

 

For the first time, businesses have several generations working side by side in the workplace, with different styles and perspectives. The standard approach to training and development is no longer appropriate. In its place, it is vital to have a range of tools and programmes that individuals can personalise, and make their own.

 

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