Leadership for Sustainability
Even after the economy bounces back, business won't go back to normal. A new leadership model is required to grow companies sustainably.
If we think that we can sit back in our chairs and relax after the financial crisis is over, we are in for a surprise. Globalization, climate change, increasing government intervention and political instabilities will not go away after the economy bounces back. On the contrary: organizations will be exposed to a completely new set of problems, which most leaders have never learned how to deal with in business school. According to IBM's Global CEO Study, companies will be challenged to continuously change and innovate - all the while creating a business culture that is genuine and authentic.
Driven by continuous change and uncertainty, future challenge for leaders will not be to solve operational or process issues, but to address personal and emotional issues in the team. Tomorrow's problems reside between people's ears and, as the current rates of resignation, disengagement and frustration (e.g. Corporate Leadership Council figures) shows, existing leadership approaches are failing. Default measures, such as short term fixes, tighter controls, restructuring and cost cutting, cannot address the challenges of the next decade, because they lead to frustration and fear in the team.
To create the adaptability necessary to meet the relentless chain of challenges is beyond common business practice and expertise. Leaders who want to create sustainable organizations using existing leadership models are risking failure. What's needed is to build the capacity inside the organization to address the coming challenges. In many cases, this requires a change in the company's DNA: just like the ability of every cell in our body fighting a virus, organizations need to tap into the creative abilities of every employee. This in turn requires that every employee has the mindset of a leader: awareness of what the company needs, the ability to gather the necessary resources, and the chutzpah to initiate action without sign-off from the top.
As stated in a recent Harvard Business Review article: "Executive must use their leadership abilities to generate more leadership deep in the organization".