Derek Bishop


Leading the future

Date added: 04th Nov 2015
Category: Leadership

The world of business is now looking for true leaders rather than target-oriented managers.

You don’t need a crystal ball to know that the world of leadership is changing.  Innovation, collaboration, the effects of the internet generations, the global marketplace….all these and more are putting demands on today’s leaders in ways in which would have been inconceivable a few short generations ago.

But this is also a time of huge opportunity; because the world of business is now looking for true leaders rather than target-oriented managers. The leader of today is not some autocratic figurehead who is held in awe or fear by employees and whose every pronouncement is treated as gospel.  Rather, the personal qualities required to steer businesses through the rapids of continuous change and external disruptors include personal adaptability, communication skills, the confidence to empower and the ability to engage.

There are three types of organisation: those which have failed to adapt to the new imperative and are on their way out, those which are trying to cling on to market share with a rigorous attention to ‘business as usual’ and those which are stepping up to the new imperative and looking to shape the future through innovation.  But successfully moving to a new and innovative model, becoming a Next Generation Organisation, depends on the leadership being ready and prepared for the challenge.

What then does it take to lead the future? We’ll start with the challenge of leading people through continuous change; or in fact any type of change. Whether you are moving towards an innovation culture, changing the strategy to be more customer focused, or simply realigning your culture to be more in tune with current values; the key to success is to remember that it’s not simply enough for you to prepare, you also have to take your people on the journey. This means that Next Generation leaders have to be great communicators, have to be able to empathise with people, and have to be prepared to demonstrate the change through their behaviour and actions.

More importantly, we may be living in a time of continuous change, but there is a difference between incremental transitions and bouncing from one idea to the next. When culture change fails to embed, it is either because it has been thought through properly in first place, or it is because the leadership had taken the change so far and then dropped it as they move on to the next idea. All this does is lead to change fatigue, with people becoming more and more cynical as change follows change and as the leadership appeared to be more interested in ‘the next best thing’ rather than in cementing progress so far.

So to create change you have to be the change and that means assimilating the change into your behaviours, decisions and actions. But it also means you have to have a suite of communication tools at your command and to use them appropriately in order to generate the required understanding and enthusiasm in your people. And don’t forget that in any organisation you have people with a range of aptitudes and abilities; and this means that the communication tools which you use have to be targeted to different audiences as appropriate.

Whatever the challenge, it is important to remember that you don’t have to face it alone. There used to be a lot written about the loneliness of leadership, but when Next Generation leaders are looking towards innovation and collaboration then they should also be looking for mutual support throughout the organisation. Leaders at every level, leaders without a title: these people are the backbone of the organisation and by empowering them and engaging their enthusiasms, the task of leading Next Generation organisations becomes all the easier. The Next Generation world may be very different place, but it is one in which true leaders can shape a very exciting and fulfilling future for themselves, their organisations and their customers.


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