A social network of leaders
8 June 2012 Charlie Wagstaff
The local and global competitive landscape is compelling us to be more inventive, adaptive and resourceful. While previous command-and-control models of management are ideal for select business processes and scenario, we’ve come to realise they are no longer the sole models of management. Charlie Wagstaff, managing director and co-founder of Criticaleye, explains all.
To retain a competitive edge, businesses have to go beyond improving efficiency and tightening controls. They are fundamentally changing the way they view the world and conduct business, transforming systems and cultures that have been in place for years and modifying behaviour that has long been rewarded with success.
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, recently said that it is time to look at new models that 'centre on human talent to encourage creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation-driven economic development and social progress'.
Interestingly, he envisions a new leadership model based on collaborative power or social power rather than the conception of hard and soft power as was depicted in the 'old model'.
Knowledge is power
Traditionally, a person of influence was the one who controlled information and expertise, turning knowledge into power. By contrast, the information of today can easily be outdated tomorrow and people value their leaders for their contribution to the knowledge creation of the team. Increasingly, it's about the change in the effectiveness and the speed of how people collaborate and how to accelerate the sharing of expertise from those at the top for those who can leverage and lead transformation.
The US is still the business world's benchmark. For half of the last century at least, most key technical and managerial breakthroughs came from the US - it dominated business innovation and invention.
In the 21st century, globalisation is no longer a one-way street where developed-country multinationals export their products, services and business models into emerging markets and view these new regions merely as sources of low-cost manufacturing. Economic power is shifting to the rapidly developing BRIC economies, plus the next tier of countries whose economic power and market attractiveness is increasing.
The leaders of the next generation of successful multinationals will need to be globally aware and well travelled, and possess deeper experience of working in more diverse environments and areas of expertise. They will be also be tasked with managing a very different generation of employees, people who are have numerous ways of communication available to them, and high expectations around sustainability and corporate and social responsibility.
Good leaders need to behave consistently, meeting - if not surpassing - the expectations they create for the customers, investors and communities.
As a CEO, effective leadership now - more than ever - requires constant attention and re-evaluation. In practice, this means:
- remembering and recognising that everyone has something to contribute to the success of an organisation and then creating opportunities for that to happen - to marshal internal resources of their organisation by empowering everyone to lead (and knowing when to delegate)
- using different tools to motivate and inspire beyond basic remuneration
- accepting the importance of reflection and honest self-assessment
- seeing problems as a feedback mechanism that need to be listened to and can be part of the solution - what may have worked before does not work now because circumstances have changed and evolved -something new and fresh is needed or wanting to happen
- stepping back so you can listen, observe and bring together key themes and trends
- fostering collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships
- strengthening others by increasing their self-determination and developing competence.
Leadership isn't - and never has been - about position and status; it's about behaviour and knowing when and how to act. The difference today is that the rapidity and complexity of data, the speed at which markets move and change, combined with the legal, regulatory and consumer idiosyncrasies when operating across multiple territories, means that the successful leadership teams and businesses really are a social network.
In the end, that's what really makes the difference.