Future leaders: Who has the right stuff?

by Iain Hopkins16 Jun 2015
Leaders today are faced with challenges that have not been witnessed before, and these challenges will only escalate in the next 10-20 years.
Leadership consultancy DDI groups these challenges into four key categories: VUCA.
  • Volatility – anticipating and reacting to the nature and speed of change
  • Uncertainty – acting decisively without 100% clear direction and certainty
  • Complexity – navigating through complexity, chaos, and confusion
  • Ambiguity – maintaining effectiveness despite constant surprises and a lack of predictability. 
Less than two-thirds of leaders around the globe said they were either ‘highly confident’ or ‘very confident’ in their ability to meet the four VUCA challenges. The result for Australian leaders was in line with their global counterparts.
To succeed, leaders of today and tomorrow will need a diverse mix of soft skills and technical business skills. In Development Beyond Learning’s latest book, The Leaders Edge, these skills are summarised under the acronym, SMART:
Situational understanding. A leader begins by assessing where they are as an organisation and then where they need to move to in three main areas: people, purpose and performance. “It’s understanding the current situation and where you personally fit into that, and how the rest of your team sits in relation to those elements,” explains Gary Lear, chairman and co-founder, Development Beyond Learning.
Motivating. “With all the challenges that are placed on a leaders head, one of the most important factors is the ability to motivate themselves and then motivating others to create a high performing team,” Lear explains.

Advancing goals. “Taking a business forward is not just about behavioural leadership but how you set a great strategy. Setting a great strategy and vision is important for the organisation, and advancing goals is based on that strategy and vision,” says Lear.

Reviewing actions. “The leader must be able to place things in context in their org and within their global focus. They must then be able to move people and their people structures forward to adapt to any upcoming changes,” says Lear.

Tracking progress. “This means consistently reviewing your own leadership and your organisation’s progress,” says Lear. “One of the biggest problems we get into is almost like a treadmill of doing the same thing every day and expecting a different result. Leaders need to start looking at tracking progress so they can bring about change quickly within their organisation.”

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