THIS article looks at the leader and how flexible or agile they should be as they face the future.
Leaderplasticity is a construct of two words: Leader and plasticity. Requirements for great leadership are changing. The leader must now become an agent of change. The leader must possess soft skills and have emotional intelligence so as to creatively bring all institutional cogs or parts together to fulfil goals.
Moreover, work environments are changing from just being “job centres” to being centres of empowerment, improvement and value-addition and the leader has to assume a new role of a coach.
As such, the leader needs to be flexible. Management guru Peter Drucker read into the future when he said we live in an era of three Cs: Accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and tremendous competition.
Change is one of those things most people are not comfortable with. It is not easy to change jobs or switch positions. There is always something inside us which loves to make us sit on the laurels.
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The Nokia story perfectly highlights this point. Everything looked rosy and glossy for the mobile phone maker, until newer technologies came in. As big as the company was, it, however, sat too long on their past successes and forgot that change is coming.
As a leader, what worked in the past might not work now. Look around for things to shift. Look for problems to solve and be a change leader.
One thing with successful leaders is that when they see a problem they do not cry and complain. They push their thinking capacity and ingenuity to the last stretch.
Most people only go “through” problems, but great people have learnt to “grow through” problems. I have seen that most of my success is not because of the pleasure, but the pain I met along the journey of life.
That was the pain of repetition, patience, wise hard work, failing and not staying down because of shame, jeers and sneers. It is painful, but these are the things which give an edge to every winning leader.
Computation is moving at breakneck speed. Who would have imagined that you would do almost all banking transactions on your smartphone?
Who would have thought that there would be a company called Alibaba.com where you just purchase a thing from any corner of the globe and it would be delivered to your doorstep?
The future leader has to leverage the power of computers. Now, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not only the talk of the day, it has become the centre of most global businesses.
The World Economic Forum once predicted that, over five million jobs will be lost to computation. What does this mean?
Those who do not want to learn will be found clutching to irrelevant tools which clash with new trends. Every leader should think of what might come; the next smart gadget and the next new software.
The most trendy way of learning these days is to “learn what’s necessary to learn”, not what is on offer from an educational institute. Chase seminars and new online courses, especially for those who need to acquire specialised skill sets and mindsets.
I always caution people that if they do not want to change, they will be eliminated naturally by new entrants.
New threats are not people you might be suppressing as your subordinates, but external forces that will leave you jobless. Jim Rohn once said: “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” If you do not change you are removed from the game by change, computation and competition.
The obvious factor is that if you do not change you become redundant, incompatible, irrelevant, slow to newer systems, inefficient and unfriendly to the new systems.
Leaders should keep their ear active and be ready to pick any new signal of change. There are conversations constantly happening around us.
The current global conversation is around AI. Research and learn that subject. Be attentive to buzz words, talks and networks. As a leader it is essential for you to attend some business and leadership meetings such as symposiums and conferences so that you are in the loop about influential thoughts, attitudes, feelings and actions driving industry.
Get into those conversations and be part of them. At times you have to lead some conversations by being a thought leader.
Henry Ford once said: “Coming Together is the beginning, staying together is progress and keeping together is success.” Look for synergies to help you accomplish your goals as a leader. Leaders must know that they cannot win when they are isolated, but when they work with others. People surrounding you as a leader matter.
Learn to be in the maze of connectivity. If you are not in that connectivity it means you are out of the flow. The future world is now connected by mega data or big data. Stay connected. This goes beyond teams, but it speaks to ecosystems and mastering systems thinking.
Leaders should appreciate that the markets we operate in are diverse and have special needs, tastes and behavioural economics. This requires flexibility and nimbleness to satisfy a particular customer need. A good example of flexibility is shown by Uber. This is a transportation network with a global impact. So, customisation becomes essential because it modifies the way we have been doing things to suit a particular individual or task.
Create content and be known for it and that is being a thought leader. Become a leading authority who is being sought after and rewarded.
At times you do not need a corporation to be a leader, but create something and become a brand leader. I leant about this concept when I published my books.
Corporates do not just call everyone to come and speak for them, but they call experts and one way is by being an author or thought leader. Distinguish yourself by becoming a content creator.
Leadership requires serious thinking. Think creatively, critically and carefully. The results we see around us are just a manifestation of a thought s that was put into action.
In an article in the Harvard Business Revie, FreekVermeulen said: “Don’t just accept the situation and business constellation you have arrived at. Leadership is not just doing things, it is about thinking. Make time for it.”
Imagination is everything. The world is ruled and controlled by ideas. What idea controls you? Is your idea controlling the world? Think!
Jonah Nyoni is an author, speaker, and leadership trainer. He can be contacted on Twitter @jonahnyoni. WhatsApp: +263 772 581 918