The future comes with soon-to-be-released products, updated technologies, unexpected opportunities and, of course, unforeseen challenges. The leadership challenge will continue to be the pace of global change and the rate at which technology evolves. The two are a cruelly matched pair that will forever challenge any leader’s judgment and decision-making, as both significantly impact a company’s scalability, the timeframe to scale and the value it delivers along the spectrum of its growth.
The secret to overcoming challenges is to anticipate them to the point that their inherent complexity is minimised. This means getting ahead of the power curve rather than looking at it from the low ground—something too many organisational leaders delay until it’s too late.
To minimise the landscape of complexity in your organisation, you and I need to be aware of the following top 4 leadership challenges in the current economic environment:
Some of the current and future challenges for leaders include creating a shared purpose. It’s no secret that Millennials are, well, different. They’re motivated differently, they communicate differently and they make decisions differently. Conscious capitalism – where companies focus on delivering long-term value through purpose, passion and shared ideals–is the long-game strategy to attracting today’s top talent. The challenge for leaders, then, is in translating what they know and how they’ve been raised in an organisation into a language that Millennials speak and that resonates with them. Secondly, measuring return on investment of soft skill development. It’s an age-old challenge that HR practitioners, consultants, and coaches face: qualifying the financial ROI of leadership development programs. After all, smiles and sunshine don’t turn profits, right? Wrong.
In an interdependent world, it’s amazing that this question still exists. Anybody who knows anything about having to lead with authentic influence over authority knows that soft skills are anything but soft – they’re difficult to learn and extremely difficult to master. However, soft skills create agile organisations, develop innovative companies, make the best places to work, and build the most admired companies. Soft skills bring out the best in people as their behaviours and competencies are shaped to fit the strategy of the organisation, the desired work climate, and the ever-changing, unpredictable landscape.
A third challenge is identifying and communicating what success looks like. What does success look like in a world where technology constantly advances, where change is the flavour of the day – every day – and where geographically dispersed workplaces are the norm? In order to communicate success, leaders must first get granular and identify what success looks like. Once they’re clear on the end state, only then are they in a position to communicate the strategies to get there. Also, keep in mind that while the leader’s vision of success won’t change, the means by which the company arrives there surely will, which means leaders also need to communicate the value of adapting to change; that change is merely a strategy used to achieve organisational objectives, rather than a one-time objective itself. Strategy is a constantly moving target, and the only way to get comfortable and feel secure is to embrace the chaos that we call business. And finally, building trust.
With globalisation being the norm nowadays there are less opportunities to interact and build trust. Can trust be built without personal (i.e. face-to-face) interaction? Certainly. But at a much slower rate than had those encounters taking place under the same roof. As we know, trust is the basis upon which everything – relationships, performance, results – is built.
The difference between leaders who show up at work and those who show up to work is intentionality. The former reacts to fires whereas the latter proacts to the ingredients that cause fires by using self-management tools like mental imagery to anticipate events and their subsequent impacts upon others. They know that body language sends powerful messages and that people pick up on just as much on what they didn’t say or do as what they did. Remember, people like hearing a vision, some direction – especially in turbulent times. Any sort of communication in this regard offers a degree of certainty and trust, because it communicates that A) leadership is aware and B) they have a plan to deal with it. This is becoming more evident in South Africa where we are seeing many challenges in service delivery, mining, and the political space. These lessons and solutions are the springboard to greater value to communities and the business at large.
Alex Granger is a Global Speaker, Author, and Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer at Twice Blue, a human capital consulting firm based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
To book Alex Granger at your next event or conference contact USB on +27 (0)11 074 9800
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