A disruptive world – new leadership capabilities

Whether you are a company that wants to attract top talent or you are an individual who is trying to land your dream job, or an aspiring entrepreneur seeking to create a new business, it’s becoming clear that the future of work is both human and technology centred.  All of which involve the development of new leadership capabilities and styles.

For humans to be effective, productive and innovative, in the Digital Age, we must have great leaders, who know that the future of work is both human and technology centred and are able to make innovation a habit by:

  • Taking a strategic, systemic and human-centered approach to their role and work, who make it safe and possible for people to change, adapt and innovate.
  • Leading from behind to harness and mobilize people’s potential because they know that skills like creativity and complex problem solving are the result of collaborative efforts, facilitated through collaboration, including teaming and networking across diverse groups, often in different locations.
  • Enabling & coaching people “on the job” and facilitates “lifelong” learning opportunities, which are more important than ever in resourcing people to deal with the speed and volume of change and uncertainty.

Entrepreneur as a role model – new leadership capabilities

Globally successful entrepreneurs are emerging as exciting, courageous and authentic new role models demonstrating many of the vital qualities required for effective 21st-century leadership and in the future of work.

This is because they are re-inventing how to engage in the art of applying entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship practices to harness potential and mobilize human energy towards creating a better future by;

  • Developing creative ideas and innovative solutions to some of the world’s greatest societal challenges.
  • Demonstrating deep values-driven conviction, emotional integrity, individualism, creative energy, fearless and passionate purposefulness, coupled with determination and empathy.
  • Knowing what it means to practice empathy through people and customer-centricity.
  • Being safely and intentionally different and provocative, to constantly disrupt and challenge the status quo.
  • Being a willing emotional ally, who teaches, transforms, innovates and coaches others to create, invent and innovate.

Leadership as a way of life – new leadership capabilities

For humans to be effective, productive and innovative, we must have great leaders who also focus on making trust, humility, accountability, experimentation, collaboration, digitization, innovation within a commercially astute context, a way of organizational life. Doing this ensures that their people and their company constantly deliver increased value for customers. It also ensures that in the future of work, they drive success within their ever-expanding areas of influence and responsibility, to flow and flourish in uncertain times.

At ImagineNation™ we embraced these elements when we designed our Innovation Leadership Framework. Where we focussed on developing new leadership capabilities that embody and enact 7 key Leadership Roles. Which we believe are necessary to survive and thrive, by adapting, learning, innovating and growing in uncertain times.

As we already know, that the future of work is both human and technology centred, leaders need to enact these roles to deliver valuable innovative organizational solutions:

  1. Explorer; means being fully present to self and others, being mindful and adaptive to change and uncertainty, to emerge, diverge and converge, and connect creative ideas and trends that embrace people, processes and technology.
  2. Inquirer; means being positively optimistic, inquisitive and foresighted about the present and the future, having mental flexibility through critical and creative thinking capability to synthesize, clarify, ideate and develop ideas that embrace people, processes and technology to potentially extrapolate the future.
  3. Pioneer; means being trustworthy, brave, passionate and intentional in creating an environment applying design thinking principles and iterative practice, making it safe for people to take smart risks, improvise, experiment and fail fast where trying is valued as learning.
  4. Cultivator; means being humanistic, vulnerable and empathic to self-manage and regulate in safe ways to ignite, harness, mobilize and maximize people, teams and business units potential through coaching, encouraging people to take smart risks, add value, when innovating to achieve own, people, team, business and customer goals and improve their overall experience.
  5. Convincer; means demonstrating conviction in the innovation purpose and vision, being open to possibilities, being flexible in “not knowing” in the face of VUCA conditions, being astute and rigorous in risk-taking, dealing with fear, removing barriers and obstacles to create readiness and receptivity to innovation and in eliciting creative ideas.
  6. Co-creator; means being creative, seeing, responding to and solving problems generatively through play, playfulness, and improvisation, sensing, listening, inquiring and debating to intentionally and safely challenge and disrupt how people perceive the status quo to co-create and deliver desired outcomes.
  7. Connector; means being both a team leader & member in co-operating across geographies, demographics, and functions to break down silos, navigate and build networks, creating eco-systems that maximize differences and diversity to implement and deliver desired outcomes.

“On the job” & “lifelong” learning in 21st-century leadership

“Lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, & self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons”.

With the advent of the Digital Age, and in the future of work, our research reveals that corporate learning can no longer be divided into a place and time (workshops) to acquire knowledge and a place and time to apply the knowledge acquired (workplace).

In VUCA times, where we cannot predict or control events, we need a new sensemaking skillset that enables us to respond to the question – “How do we make sense of the world so we can act in it?”

Learning to be an effective 21st-century leader is most effective when it takes place on an ongoing and “on the job” basis, as well as from the feedback from our daily interactions with others and from the worlds we operate within.

As humans, we need to be both human & technology centred by knowing how to apply learning as a mechanism for creating situational awareness and an understanding of highly complex systems and situations in order to take intelligent actions and make smart decisions by:

Making sense of the relationship and connections between what is old and what is new and is constructed by individuals or groups making sense of their experiential worlds.

Recipes for 21st-century leadership learning

This suggests that 21st-century leadership learning programs are most effective when they focus on cultivating new mindsets, creative, critical and foresight thinking strategies. That develops the ability to anticipate, adapt and cultivate new behaviours and take intelligent actions.

All of which require experimentation, repetition and continuous practice to refine and master. These are best delivered through a range of micro and macro, blended learning options, depending on the desired change or learning outcomes.

This customized approach, in the future of work, to developing new leadership capabilities includes an integrated, bespoke recipe that combines these key elements:

  • Face to face learning events and workshops to engage people and introduce concepts and principles and enable them to experiment with techniques to get immediate feedback. To refine and apply “on the job” now and in the future.
  • Experiential and playful improvisational activities for people to experiment & fail fast, that bring theory to “life” & create memorable moments for observation, retreat & reflection. To emerge distinctions as to the most effective mindsets, behaviours and skills to apply “on the job” to maximise their use of time and resources.
  • Evidence and team-based action learning assignments to create opportunities for collaborating across boundaries. To experiment, test, iterate and pivot concepts, principles and techniques “on the job” now & in the future.
  • Playful business simulations to create permission and safety for stretching and challenging people. To exit their comfort zones and learn to experiment in being creative and collaborative, by failing fast.
  • One on one, peer and team coaching to enhance “on the job” learning, skills and effectiveness. To cultivate “lifelong” resources and capabilities.
  • Online “sandwich” learning micro components including webinars, coaching, video bots and MOOC’s. To  give people the freedom to take responsibility for their own learning processes, collaborate with others, & manage time and financial constraints.

The ultimate measure of effectiveness for 21st-century leaders

When asking “what are people for”, in his book “Sensmaking” author, Christina Madsbjerg, responds by stating that “People are for making and interpreting meaning”.

That we should be using both human science tools and technology, to optimize both ourselves and technology to scale. To innovate, in the future of work, when finding solutions to the world’s most difficult problems.  It will enable us to better structure the unknown so as to be able to act in it, by developing new leadership styles and capabilities to lead people in the imagination age.

“The ultimate measure of effectiveness for leaders is the ability to sustain superior results over an extended period of time. Organizations filled with aligned, empowered & collaborative employees focused on serving customers will outperform hierarchical organizations every time. Top-down leaders may achieve near-term results, but only authentic leaders can galvanize the entire organization to sustain long-term performance.

We need them to rebuild the trust that has been lost in capitalism”.

At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors, and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate & deep personalized learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting October 22, 2019. It is a deep blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles & applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business in the digital age.