Agile Leadership in a Rapidly Evolving World
How do you lead an organisation today? Political and social upheaval combined with technological revolution are fundamentally altering the leadership landscape and changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
We need a different kind of leadership now than in the past. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the political, social and digital transformation is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. So too, are the basic principles and practices of leadership shifting.
Traditional leadership mind-sets, styles and ways of working within most global corporations are simply not suited to coping with the speed, volatility, complexity and ambiguity of this new operating environment. A new approach to leadership learning and leader development is necessary.
Organisations that understand and embrace this environment can thrive; others will simply fail. The former CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, predicts that 40% of the world’s largest corporations will be extinct within the next decade. In the last 60 years, the average lifespan of a large organisation has dropped from 60 years to just 18 years. How leaders handle these changes will determine whether their organisations survive, decline or accelerate in the next stage of their lifecycle.
A ‘living research’ project conducted by Oxford Leadership shows that the leaders who are succeeding in this ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ have embraced a new mind-set, viewing the organisation as a living organism or eco-system, rather than as a mechanical machine.
By studying the leadership practices, culture and ‘ways of working’ of several of the world’s largest corporations for the past 5 years, Oxford Leadership has found the critical leadership factors to be those which encourage organisational adaptability, speed and agility. The study shows that leaders who have most effectively adapted their organisations to embrace disruptive technologies and new business models, have challenged the organisational status quo, defined a clear and common purpose and focused on creating the conditions for speed, agility and flexibility in the organisation.
Leadership in the 4th Industrial Revolution will be defined by the ability to rapidly align & engage empowered, networked teams with clarity of purpose & fierce resolve to win.
Three important shifts necessary to lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution:
1. Be purpose driven
Create a common purpose, which acts as an internal organisational compass that ensures everyone is facing in the same direction, and working towards a common goal with fierce resolve and a shared sense of meaning.
2. See the organisation as a living organism
Instead of looking at your organisation through the lens of mechanical science, view your organisation as a living system – as an eco-system of eco-systems that is constantly evolving with a ‘team of teams’ approach – hyper networked, relationship rich and with continuous communication feedback loops.
3. Devolve decision-making authority to empowered teams
Devolve authority and mandates to hyper-networked teams, bound together by technology and a common purpose. Replace traditional organisational silos with diverse and highly connected teams with distributed authority and a collaborative decision-making process.
A shift from thinking and operating in silos to hyperconnected globally dispersed teams.
So what’s the result?
Clear Purpose, Adaptability, Speed and Agility are the keys. Developing a crystal-clear common purpose that acts as an internal compass, and re-structuring the organisation around empowered, hyper-connected teams with devolved and distributed authority leads to faster decision-making. This enables organisations to become much faster and more agile while making good decisions, together, faster.
The next generation of leaders will be those who can develop a common purpose, trusting people and empowering teams to act on their own initiative. Shifting the structure and mind-set of an entire organisation away from that of mechanical science to something more organic and biological that breaks the silo mentality will create excitement and engagement in a resilient, energetic and adaptable eco-system, ready to take a leadership position in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Probably 40% of the world’s leading companies will not exist in a meaningful way ten years from now.
Become a part of the Oxford Leadership ‘Living Research’ Project.
We have only scratched the surface when it comes to “Industry 4.0” and have lots to learn about how to lead in this environment. Oxford Leadership is conducting a ‘living research’ project aimed at redefining leadership for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The project focuses on how mature corporations are adapting their leadership style, culture and way of working in order to innovate and steer the implementation of new business models and face the relentless headwinds of new market realities. We invite you to take part in interviews and roundtable events throughout 2016 and 2017.