Boldness is the very quality needed to make your mark in business, to be an effective leader. To become better connected to yourself, your team, and your organisation, you need to be bold.
This framework enables you to be and become bold in the workplace, to achieve and sustain your leadership ambitions.
Eight challenges leaders will need to address in the coming decade
The pace of change in modern business is dizzying, and leaders who aren’t prepared for the challenges on the horizon may find themselves leading their organisations into the history books.In 1958, the average lifespan of a company listed on the S&P 500 stock exchange in the U.S. was 61 years. Today that lifespan is just 18 years – and falling. At the current rate of attrition, three quarters of companies currently listed on the index will have changed in the next decade. The story’s the same in stock markets around the world.
The human brain is a wonderful thing. The most powerful supercomputer on earth, and every one of us has the latest model sitting right between our ears. It’s what enables us to do uniquely human things. Things like planning for the future, inventing and innovating, and imagining the world from other people’s points of view. All critical skills for aspiring leaders, and all delivered thanks to generations of refinement to the structure and psychology of the human brain.
When working with leaders to help them become better connected, there are four principal domains in which we work. Each one of these is – quite naturally – connected to the others.
Four domains that may, at first glance, appear to be independent, but in fact influence one another profoundly. Push here and something happens over there. They are the component parts of a unified whole.
We live in the age of disruption,where apparently left-field, unexpected solutions to problems we thought we had licked can creep up on big, established market leaders, to become noisy, irritating challengers.
To the outmanoeuvred, to the sluggish establishment, the struggle is knowing how to be different and how to change. It’s as if the innovators rewrote the rules of their sector and didn’t tell anyone. It’s like their upstart competitors really did uncover the secrets of alchemy or worked out how to speed up evolution.
The facts on gender imbalance in leadership at work make for stark reading:
· Globally, women hold less than a quarter of all senior roles. This has crept up by 1% in the past year, and just 6% since 2004
· In small and medium enterprises, 21% are led by women
· Just seven FTSE 100 companies have a female CEO, and there’s just one in the top 50 – Emma Walmsley of GlaxoSmithKline
· In fact, there are more men called David (9) who are FTSE 100 CEOs than women
· In Ireland, just 14% of CEOs and COOs are women
When a goal is achieved in your team or organisation, what happens next?
It’s natural to want to recognise and celebrate achievements. Acknowledging a job well done is a vital part of the process of development.
But there’s a risk: complacency.
If we focus too much on what’s done, we often forget about what’s still to do. We look back, rather than forward to the next job, and the next goal.
If I were to ask you how you are, what would you say?
I suspect there is a strong possibility your answer would include the word ‘busy’. Most of us feel busy and we see being busy as a positive thing. If you’re busy, that must mean you’re productive, useful and high-achieving. If you’re not busy, what are you doing with your time?
In the words of Mary Chapin Carpenter, "I dwell in possibility on New Year's Day”. At the beginning of the year, we feel everything is open to us. The year stretches ahead of us, full of hope and opportunity.
There will always be goals we want to achieve. Indeed, they’re usually a vital part of measuring achievement and performance. But for those goals to mean anything, they need to be tied to a vision of success.
If no-one knows what you’re doing, they might think you’re doing nothing at all. That’s where the feedback loop comes in.
The feedback loop builds relationships and strengthens teams. Individuals feel valued and leaders throughout the organisation know who is especially good at doing what. Rather than being a fleeting moment, feedback gains momentum and has a long-lasting impact.
“How do you get rid of cynicism in an organisation?”
This question was put to me recently by David, MD of an international sales organisation during a coaching session.
Why did he ask? Because "it's the number one thing that gets in the way of making progress"
A good mentor provides the shoulders that their mentoree needs to stand on to see, and go, further. All of us can think of people whose shoulders we have stood on, even if only for a short time.
Our giants, or mentors, may have come in the form of colleagues and bosses, family members and friends, or with people we’d asked to mentor us. Mentoring may have come in the form of a one-off chance conversation, or a formal mentoring relationship over several years.
Too busy and not enough time to do it all. Wishing to be more strategic and effective as a leader but the day to day business of their working lives simply takes over. The unique window of time when they first took the job and had brilliant aspirations for the role is over.
It’s been replaced by constant tactical decisions, the frenzy of email and endless meetings. Sound familiar?
Are you doing everything? As a leader, are you immersed in the tactics, the business of your work and overlooking the development of your staff?
Pick up most business books from the past decade or two and they’re packed with examples of organisations with great visions and heroic leaders for us to consider as role models and exemplars.
As fairly recent history has revealed, some of those megastar leaders have turned out to have had feet of clay. Their organisations either no longer exist or have been exposed as espousing noble values to the world whilst privately forsaking them in the pursuit of the bottom line or the lining of their own pockets.
“Pulling off the perfect pit stop requires remarkable teamwork and communication, as split second decisions can make or break a race. A similar demand is placed on medical teams who have to perform complex tasks under pressure when transferring patients from theatre to intensive care. Even minor delays during the handover process can seriously affect patient recovery.”