Choose To Lead?
A Question For Today’s Workforce
With all of the focus these days on leadership skills and competencies, an additional question needs to be asked. The issue is not so much how to lead, although that is important, but who should lead.
Organizations that focus on leadership at the top exclusively are missing a major opportunity and could be making a fatal mistake.
With flatter organizations, multiple generations comprising the workforce and a great deal of people working virtually, leadership is required at all levels in every organization.
To build strength in an organization, they need to grow from the ground up. In a rapidly changing, fast moving world, it is vital that non-leader individual contributors posses the interpersonal skills to complement their technical skills, and to learn to lead, influence and get things done through others.
These individuals may aspire to rise through the levels of the leadership pipeline or to be the very best in their area of expertise. Either way, certain core “Smart Skills” are essential to their personal achievement as well as the organization’s business growth.
To develop individual contributors into leaders, companies must provide guidance, training and coaching. People must be challenged to step up and lead and they must be provided opportunities and support.
In a recent Hay Group study, they identified six Megatrends for the future.
- Accelerating globalization (globalization 2.0)
- Climate change, it’s environmental impact and scarcity of resources
- Demographic change
- Individualization and values pluralism
- Increasingly digital lifestyles
- Technology convergence
People must develop their capacity to recognize and manage their own emotions and to react appropriately to the emotions of others.
Learning to manage interpersonal conflicts and redirecting inappropriate energy is key to building Emotional Intelligence. Additionally, as part of the leadership foundation, a technology knows, as Appreciative Inquire is essential.
Appreciative Inquiry is a technique for deliberately seeking to discover people’s exceptionality – their unique gifts, strengths, and qualities. It actively searches and recognizes people for their specialties – their essential contributions and achievements.
Appreciative Inquiry explores various ways to build relationships, ask great questions and surface the best possible solutions to problems and challenges. As opposed to focusing on what is “wrong” in a particular situation, Appreciative Inquiry looks at what could be “right” and what may be possible in that same situation. Appreciative Inquiry is the solution for augmenting traditional problem solving and integrating the newer approaches to solution finding.
This combination of Emotional Intelligence and practicing Appreciative Inquiry arms the individual with a foundation of insightfulness, flexibility and curiosity.
Next, people must learn the skills of influencing and negotiation. With so many cross-functional organizations, teams comprised of vendors, customers and individuals from several companies and the global/virtual environment in which we must manage, learning to influence and negotiate is mandatory. No longer can managers and executives edict outcomes and enforce rigid processes and procedures. More modern agile methods are now called for.
Influencing is defined as the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. Also, it is defined as the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.
Techniques for influencing others, methodologies for both formal and informal influencing and information and knowledge on various cultures will be required to influence while working with diverse cultures.
Next, a technique called Interest Based Negotiations represents a much more effective way to negotiate conflicting positions as it is based on expanding the mutual interests of the parties as opposed to the traditional Win/Lose model of position based negotiations. People find these techniques extremely valuable as they allow them to gracefully navigate many of the difficult situations in which they find themselves.
Developing skills in conflict resolution, collaboration, understanding human emotions and negotiating for mutual gain is essential for the leader of the future.
Lastly, but definitely not solely, people must learn to manage outcomes and results and take responsibility, not only for their own work product but also for the ultimate success of projects, products and business initiatives. Skills such as managing stress & change and high-level communications are required to manage up, down and across in organizations.
In order to effectively manage stress and change one must explore the physical and emotional costs of our 24 X 7 X 365 work world. Understanding stress and the impact on our physical body & emotional well being, learning to minimize and manage stress, handling continuous, rapid change and maintaining a healthy mind/body/spirit balance are survival skills for today’s work environment.
People must develop the ability to communicate effectively in today’s complex business environment. Many organizations operate “virtually” and therefore communication is even more difficult. Identifying barriers to effective communication and learning how to overcome them along with understanding everyone’s role in communication is essential. Developing deep listening skills and influence and persuasive communication are also part of the skills required for the new leader.
No longer can individual contributors wait to be told what to do and managers and executives cannot expect strict compliance to their orders. A business culture based upon collaboration and mutual trust must be developed. Leaders at all levels will learn to cooperate, collaborate and accept responsibility and accountability in new and different ways.
Never has there been such an opportunity to transform the work environment to take advantage of the skills and talents resident in every organization. Never have the reasons for making these changes been so compelling.
The question we must all ask and answer is:
Will we, or will we not Choose To Lead?