The leader's job is getting increasingly difficult. The barrage of changes that have distraught the business ecosystem has forced leaders to come out of their cocoon and look at the world with a fresh new lens. And more often than not, a lens that requires periodic cleaning and the occasional replacement. In a business era where due to tech advancements, coupled with socio-economic factors, significant shifts have occurred, a leader is not only expected to navigate the company successfully through such troubled waters but also have a key vision that helps predict and mitigate the negative impact of incoming shifts in the near future.
But like many life lessons, this has been easier to say than execute. To keep one eye on the smooth functioning of the company while keeping a lookout of the future is indeed a tumultuous task. After all, it is a turbulent and uncertain world. Even companies rich in institutional knowledge are facing environments which are new and challenging.
All this begs to question, how can leaders truly add value to their existing equation?
As we move into 2018 finding relevant answers to that question because important. That can be the crucial difference between organizations and leaders whose best years are ahead of them from those stuck in the past.
Although not an exhaustive list, the following traits would matter a lot within leaders in the coming times
The ability to break your own personal pattern
As disruption becomes a common issue within the businesses, to be able to chart the right course of action would greatly depend on the leader's ability to break free from personal patterns. These patterns might have resulted in successful decision making in the past but in order to truly remain ahead of the curve, one might find help from taking a fresh look at their own decision making patterns and identifying areas where they can benefit from thinking anew.
Because people are often comfortable depending on their patterns, as they’ve guaranteed success in the past, it becomes difficult to see new patterns and possibilities. This would restrict them in completely exploring all possible future paths.
The ability to continuously learn
As leaders are responsible for taking the company to new heights, a strong deterrent to failing is the ability to keep learning. Learning more about the ecosystem and the various gears and cogs that work the system and how they are evolving. In addition to it improving leaders ability to predict the incoming changes, a well-informed leader also becomes a valuable asset to any team. To help guide a team and to set the right a culture within the organization, a leader who willing to learn becomes a need within the company. When it comes to inventing the future, the most effective leaders are the most insatiable learners. Creative leaders are always asking themselves, “Am I learning as fast as the world is changing?”
The ability to experiment
In addition to changing patterns of thinking and keeping a curious outlook towards learning, the third critical factor is the ability to experiment. Although earlier wisdom would dictate to keep doing what works, one might find that approach restricting, and even harmful in certain cases, given the context of a rapidly evolving business ecosystem. To experiment and try out is a key trait that a leader can help inject into the company. But only if they imbibe it truly in the first place.
From large scale changes like pivoting business models to minute tweaks to products, all become crucial to increase the agility within one’s organization. This helps ensure adaptability to the changing times. A look at the past innovations that have redefined companies, one might find a that many such breakthroughs have after a period heavy experimentations. Great success stories are often built on products that failed and initiatives that were never successful. That’s why leaders who are fit for the future are the ones that support lots of ideas and are willing to experiment with them that too with a reasonable rate of expected success.
The right amount of optimism
Although this might sound like a vague proposition to find in the leader for tomorrow, it doesn’t stop it from becoming any less vital. A turbulent future often presents a bleak picture that might cause unnecessary distress within the company. A leader with a healthy portion of optimism becomes necessary to build the right attitude and outlook to face the changes that are becoming a constant in the markets today.
Leadership skills are a part of those competency building initiatives that usually has intangible results. Only when the times are tough that a leader's true mettle is tested. Although no one person would completely posses all of the above-mentioned traits, an attempt to build the right mix of them would certainly be a big plus. There is no guarantee that one particular trait can help leaders invent a more prosperous future for their organization. It, unfortunately, doesn’t work like that. But by hoping to build leadership traits that are dynamic, support learning and experimentation, all with a healthy optimism about the future, leaders can definitely maximize their chances of leading an organization successfully.