Adjustment vs Variety – 21st century leadership challenge

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Nowadays, it is important for business leaders to convert challenges into opportunities. Dr Lakshmi Mohan, Director, ITM Business School, Kharghar, observes the traits a business leader should possess to contribute in the growth of his/her organisation for Elets news Network (ENN).

Globalisation, tough competition, technological advancement, speed of communication and many rapid changes at work place have brought in new challenges for leadership. The challenges come in different variety, but it is the leader who can create differentiating factors to change stumbling blocks to stepping stones.

Strategy and size: Business leaders have to be more prepared for external crises, figure out how to adapt strategy that can take the team along. With growing team size and competitive scenario, leaders have to be dynamic in their approach. VUCA world cautions us about volatility in business environment, uncertainty at many times, posing up to challenges and preparing for the unknown which is no mean task for a business leader in the 21st century.

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Research and development for modern times: Land, labour and wealth philosophy propagated by Karl Marx or Adam Smith stand feeble in front of science which has superseded and gained importance in business. Ideas have gained more prominence than materials. Be it google, facebook, Ola and many others, the change they have brought to the world is without armies and battle field. To stay up to date and make relevance to the modern world, research and development is the key word. Innovation is life for any business leader.

 Technology for speed and time : Technology has made man lazy I would say, but can we do without technology is an answer we all know. The dependence has grown with time and leaders have to catch up with the latest in technology , lest their team would find them stagnant. From exchange of letters to emails to sms to whatsapp has been a drastic transformation in the way we communicate . Robots have assumed human roles and artificial intelligence is playing key functions in business. Today reporting is on whatsapp group that makes it convenient for the Team to discuss on a virtual mode. Opinions are formed and sought on social media , the virtual space is conquering the hearts and minds of millions, the change is dramatic and drastic for leaders to act and adapt.

TAT in Decision making: The influx of data and information is useful but has added chaos if leaders are unable to cope. Data can burn you out if the leader is unstable in making decisions. Moreover decisions have to be quick keeping pace with the market movements.  Decisions cannot be left waiting for long, swift action is vital for success. At the same time if too many decisions need attention, it can lead to “decision fatigue”, so it is important for business leaders to sequence and prioritize situations.

Match up to needs of Gen X: The speed, the proximity to technology, openness, restlessness, life in virtual space are few ways to define the millennials. The difference between generations looms larger than the difference between nations! Leaders need to articulate and use tact in leading young teams. They need to be updated to not not be treated as outdated by Gen X.

BHAG with finishing lines: A compelling drive for Big, Hairy and Audacious Goals (BHAG) for the team must be the catalyst to pep the team spirit. If leaders are capable to bring the focus of the team , success is inevitable. Working with a vision, design thinking resulting into concrete action is a challenge that every leader should not only walk but inspire the team to follow.

Stay calm in chaos: Empowering is the key to restore calm. Chaos calls for sensing and simplifying. If leaders get chaotic to situations, it is doom for an organization. composure enables wiser decisions. Panic leader can create havoc not only for himself, but his team and organsation as well. Crisis in this new age is known as “new-normal” and calls for a proactive leader rather than a reactive leader.

Communicate and connect: Words are vital connecting thread to leaders and their teams. Communication is no longer paper pen domain, it is twitter, blogs , linkedin and other tools that are of importance.

Change is constant: Leaders evolve because of change and must acknowledge this catalyst for the progress they have made in life and career. Then why should change pose a big challenge? Change must be enjoyable for every leader and a positive ingredient to improve the system. Leader ought to go with” Lead-Learn”. If they fail to embrace new learnings, change will be a constraint.

Creative rather than administrative: Doors to experimentation must be unlocked. From the age old administrative mentality leaders have to choose the creative path. Innovation has be a vital operating principle that the leader has to harp on. Encouraging ideas and developing the innovative potential of the employees is significant for a true leader.

Distribute rather than direct: A leader has enormous potential and this energy form has to be distributed to the team. The distributed strength multiplies unlike directions, that may narrow down the action. Leaders today must fuel the micro generators to create ripple effect of success powered by hundreds and thousands of employees. The power of distribution is immense and leaders have to master this unique ideology.

Adjustment vs Variety is the phenomena leaders in the 21st century are exposed to. If the leader doesn’t adapt to the variety in transformation around , he perishes and will never be forgiven for the downfall of the organization. On one hand leaders are expected to be confident, strong and secure while on the other hand leaders have to be empathetic, transparent and approachable. On one side leaders have to listen while on the other side they have to announce a decision and compel action. Not surprisingly extraordinary physical and mental stamina is demanded out of leaders . Leaders today have to remain cool and strategic even with disruptions in market regulations, heavy competition, every day changing technology and even sometimes gross incapability of senior management to take decisions. Leadership challenges may seem overwhelming but with it comes winning moments that will do wonders for the people and the organization, what can be more rewarding and noble than this?

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