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Disruption: Leadership rules have changed



The rules of leadership have changed and they will continue to evolve. What used to work then might not work today and the leaders must think, strategise and disrupt fast, take risks swiftly, and engage new blood, relevant blood and bonds.

I still remember, I used to love Kodak some years back. It was doing well and leading the market but it’s no longer the case. Blackberry phones with their qwerty keyboards looked so invinsible and inevitable, but they are now history. When Nokia came on stage, it looked like the king of the tele-jungle which might live forever, but some new players came and disrupted the rules. Now, there is no central place where rules for the market are set, but anyone can wake up with a new set of rules that you will be forced to dance to.

The above examples, where invented in my generation and killed within the same generation. I personally bought two Motorola phones, because I loved that they where durable. But with its strong quality, it has been engulfed by disruption. Now, what should the leaders do?

Customer expectations

Consumer needs keep changing. The way people buy consumer products has changed. Work on reading or predicting what the customer needs. I have realised that as I train companies, some of them are still holding on to visions and missions that were coined and crafted by leaders long gone. To make matters worse, the vision is no longer relevant to the current consumer needs. Learn what the customer needs. An old saying by William Osler says: “He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.”


There is a difference between direction and destination. Direction leads you to a particular destination. But, remember your landing port might be different because there are new winds of change. Jim Rohn always said: “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” The reason that winds are blowing is not a problem as most leaders view it. You might hate winds, but they will not stop blowing.

Ideas sell

Most companies are closing because there are no new ideas that have been generated. For example, the blanket manufacturing in Zimbabwe has been put under a lot of strain and threats. It’s no longer as profitable to produce what they used to considering what other blanket markets are producing. Most of companies have been closed in Zimbabwe because they lacked new ideas. Most employees in government institutions might not be inventive as they must be, because they have been employed to do “specific duties”. That is the reason why new companies and entrepreneurs will outclass government services because they have seen that leadership gap. So, leaders should learn to employ talented people. Companies need to re-imagine business. It’s no longer business as usual.

Learning is the new normal

Leaders have to learn from external and internal drivers of their industries. The now-leader is a learning leader. If you don’t love learning, you will soon be forgotten. Learning should be a culture for every organisation. Zimbabwe is a great case study. We have not learnt what does not work for us. Neither have we learnt what works for us. The painful truth is we are educated, but not learning. Eric Hoffer once said: “Learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Parting Point: Change is and will always be a challenge. The best way is not to fight change, but to learn it and become part of the change makers. The leader or manager’s roles are evolving. They have to be agile coaches and look out for feedback.

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