Critical & Creative Thinking is the last competitive advantage.
by Kieran Flanagan
Ah the good old days when leadership resembled a tidy, symmetrical pyramid of hierarchical control. Leaders at the top with layers of obedient minions, ready to do your bidding… or suffer the inevitable consequences.
Things were far from equitable but nonetheless the way leadership worked was relatively simple, almost parental, “Just do as you’re told!”
The future of leadership looks far less geometrical, and far more complicated. And if anything, it is going to become even less orderly and controlled.
Workplace trends like off-shoring, out-sourcing, the rise of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship and the rise of the freelance economy mean that fewer employees work for us and more and more must be encouraged to work with us.
By 2020 it is estimated that 40% of the workforce will be self employed (Source: The Intuit 2020 report).
This means employees, your team, your staff, will no longer work for you.
They will work with other businesses as well as you.
They will work on projects.
But most critically, they will work for themselves.
This will fundamentally shift the kind of leadership we require. Leaders will be required to rely less on positional authority and more on a capacity to rally followers to their cause.
Leaders will have to really stand up for something that inspires others to want to get involved, not just pay lip service to a vision that sounds like it was spat out of a Dilbert Mission Statement Generator.
Tomorrow’s leaders will need to understand who people are and just as importantly, who they aspire to be.
This kind of leadership will be defined by those we choose to follow, not those we a coerced into following.
by Kieran Flanagan
In a world of relentless change, most leaders and organizations understand the importance of keeping up to date, but often forget the importance of looking to what will endure.
What is unchanging is just as important a consideration when it comes to inventing our futures as what will. The legendary adman Bill Bernbach (one of New York’s real Madmen) wisely spoke about unchanging man (of course he would has added “unchanging woman” had the MadMen era not so entirely biased towards the masculine.
He observed, “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”
No matter how our business or technology or trends may change the way we deliver value for our customers, Mr Bernbach is of course, correct. Core human drivers will not dissipate.
We will still want to feel important, to matter, to connect to feel like us showing up to work made a difference.
We will buy emotionally, feel fear, worry for our loved ones (and their futures) and want to love.
We will be driven by ego, to prefer to do more of the things we are good at, that make us feel good, that trigger dopamine releases deep into our cerebellums.
None of these things will change because they are core to who people are.
When we understand this we can look to the heart of our businesses and consider how we serve the deepest motivators of humanity. If and when we do we can rest assured that no matter what technological or other changes occur (often beyond our control) what we offer will still be fundamentally relevant.
The how we deliver might be different but the core of what we deliver may not change at all.
by Kieran Flanagan
“Surely not,” you say! Well, hear me out.
Staff loyalty was once the ultimate measure of a leader. When a leader was great people stuck around. They progressed through the company. They grew old there. They got a gold watch.
Today staff tenure is in decline. The average length of time millennials stay in a job for is now sitting at around 3 years. And it’s predicted to decrease further.
The paradigm has changed, broad experience now trumps long experience.
People come and people go. They get a lunch, or a cake, a silly leaving card or perhaps an emotionally stunted “all-staff” email with a “thank you – its been great” kind of vibe.
In this world staff turnover measures may not be the right ones to obsess over and in the future, tenure itself may be viewed as an archaic measure. Loyalty, once telling of the type of leader you were, might become irrelevant.
Instead leaders will be judged on their ability to rally people to their vision and cause. How they stand up, what they stand for, who they stand with and what they stand against will matter far more than how well they stand in line.
The workplace of the future will be driven by oneness of purpose. People will unite to drive change, to do something extraordinary and then dissipate as the need does. In this workplace we don’t want loyal people we want skilful, knowledgeable, driven people who have bought into what they are here to do.
In short, Workplaces characterized by loyalty and tenure will soon be replaced with cultures of the willing, of the voluntary, of the enthusiastic.
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© 2017 The Impossible Institute