Based on my model, I believe that there are five leadership spheres that we need to develop. They sit on top of traditional leadership skills and competencies, which they complement rather than replace. Essentially, it’s about creating awareness of the requirements of this new world and equipping ourselves to grow to meet them. The aim is to position ourselves to perform at our best and be successful and happy over the long haul.
Importantly, many of these spheres are relatively new. Existing leaders (especially older ones) are likely to need to adapt and reinvent. Expertise and experience remain important, but new learning and mindsets must be actively developed to bring these to life in the new hyper-change environment.
SELF LEADERSHIP (Integrity)
It all starts with self leadership. As I wrote in Why Influence begins with self-leadership
, committing to this is now foundational. We can’t rely on a benevolent employer to train and equip us. Instead, we must take the initiative and responsibility for our own development.
Several business I work with now allocate a budget to their mangers and staff and charge them with researching and making a case for where they want to invest in their personal/professional growth.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP (Influence)
The rules have changed. To succeed today, leaders have to stand out. Being smart and experienced is no longer enough. You must actively develop your INFLUENCE to attract the people, customers and resources necessary to win in volatile, uncertain and complex markets. Building your Influence
is now a leadership essential. Resist this at your peril.
(To find out where you are, complete my Free Influencer Diagnostic
and receive your complimentary personalised report on what you need to DO, BE and BUILD to shift your Influence Dial)
CHANGE LEADERSHIP (Resilience)
Transformation means continuous change. The shift is from seeing change as an ‘event’ (from one ‘stable state’ to another) to developing both an appetite and a capability to lead continuous change. We need to learn to move forward through ambiguity and to trust our intuition to make fast, yet informed decisions. We need to create confidence in those we seek to lead that we know where we are going and how to get there.
Make no mistake. This is hard and exhausting work. Developing the resilience to stand strong amongst the chaos of loose ends and uncertainty is essential.
NEURO LEADERSHIP (Vulnerability)
The burden of leadership has never weighed so heavily. At all levels of society and business, we face record levels of stress, exhaustion and related mental-health issues. The higher pace is taking its toll on many and leaders are no exception.
Neuroscience has exploded our knowledge of how we are wired and what we can do to boost personal performance. Whilst we do only have the single brain (and teenagers maybe not even!), by deepening our understanding of how it and we work, we can better-equip ourselves to succeed.
As leaders, we need to understand how factors like diet, resting, sleeping and social interaction can effect our personal and leadership performance. We also need to employ techniques such as meditation, shifting environment, actively stimulating our curiosity and imagination to help us to show up and perform consistently well in all aspects of our lives.
Many ‘old school’ leaders still seem to think of this approach as ‘soft’ or a bit ‘woo woo’. We need to make ourselves vulnerable and open to learning in new ways. The science is in (and improving by the day). We just need to learn to adapt our mindset and understand that afternoon naps, walking meetings, yoga and meditation are every bit as important to bottom line success as more traditional activities. Indeed, un-tapping the many under-utilised and latent capabilities of our brains is likely to be fundamental to our successful adaptation to the new pace of business.
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP (Contribution)
One of the key findings of neuroscience is the importance of balance. Leadership is evolving. Workers (especially younger ones) are attracted to businesses whose values reflect their own. Giving back is seen as an important part of that. Leaders can benefit, both personally and professionally, by apportioning part of their time and resources to a community project. A recent report by Cambridge University - ‘Rewiring leadership: The future we want, the leadership we need’
makes the case that businesses need to actively lead
the changes that greater society needs in the face of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’
, not just adapt to them.
Community Leadership can take many forms. Leaders can volunteer as part of a charity or otherwise contribute their time and skills. As the latest Harvard Business Review notes, some leaders are taking this to another level. Increasingly, we are seeing the rise of ‘CEO Activism’, where leaders step into the fray to shape larger social issues. Like it or loathe it, in an era of increasingly dysfunctional government, this aspect of leadership is likely to increase.
Big shoes to fill
Leadership has always been demanding and it’s getting tougher. But for those willing to step out, reinvent, become vulnerable and invest in their own growth (and look after themselves on the way) the rewards are extraordinary.