We are in the midst of a global crisis, the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes. We expected disruption based on technology and geopolitical conditions. Now, we add a pandemic. The skills highly effective leaders use to lead during disruptive change are the same skills we will need going forward in an increasingly volatile world.
Leaders must look much more like scientists in this environment, creating a hypothesis of how to proceed with insufficient data and very dynamic circumstances. As you read the seven competencies, think about how you demonstrate each of them.
- Professionally Humble. Leaders are committed to the organizational mission as the primary decision-making criteria. We, as leaders, focus on the organization's purpose. In that case, we gain insight into balancing key stakeholders' expectations to clarify our actions to survive in the short-term and thrive in the long-term.
Are you willing to acknowledge your superpowers and your gaps so others can help solve vital organizational challenges?
- Unwaveringly Committed To Right Action. Leaders can stay the course because they balance short-term and long-term thinking. They are willing to make difficult or unpopular actions to sustain long-term organizational health.
Are you willing to take the tough decisions during challenging times and stay the course?
Are you willing to admit when it is time to collect more data and change course?
- 360-Degree Thinker. The leader understands cross-organizational impacts — striving to understand the interconnection across multiple complex systems and make highly informed decisions, considering implications across the broader context.
Do you understand how your work connects to other departments? Companies in your community? Your industry?
Do you know how your work impacts your stakeholders and their organizations?
- Intellectually Versatile And Curious. Leaders take a particular interest in a broad range of topics, including political, national, and international development. The pandemic offers a poignant example of why leaders need to think beyond their functional area, community, or company. As leaders, we need to balance being a subject matter expert and a general manager.
Are you curious about how your work impacts others? Does your curiosity fuel a passion for learning?
- Highly Authentic And Reflective. Leaders seek feedback and discussions in uncomfortable situations. When companies face decisions that will change the trajectory of their entire business and possibly industry, the leaders need to be open to having difficult conversations about critical decisions.
One of the most critical skills of a leader is to be self-aware. As leaders, we are the "vehicle" through which leadership happens. If we are not aware of who we are and how we impact others, we are likely to have significant blind spots. Do you have a practice to reflect on your impact on others?
- Inspires Followership. Leaders can diffuse conflict without avoiding or side-stepping the source of the conflict. Given the decisions leaders are making daily, they need to navigate their employees' feelings that range from anger to resentment to fear, among many others. The leader needs to be authentic and still inspire others.
What qualities do you require from leaders you trust? Do you demonstrate those qualities? If you asked others to describe your best qualities, would they list the qualities you listed as qualities you look for in a leader you trust?
- Innately Collaborative. A leader creates solutions to complex problems by creating new approaches that didn't exist, pulling together constituents in new ways, and building broader and more creative alliances.
Do you feel comfortable getting feedback from others on critical issues?
We encourage you to look at your leadership mindset and behaviors and answer the questions included above. Are you your best self as a leader?
Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders across the globe. An award-winning Senior Business Leader, Chair, and Board Member with a proven history of success in leveraging business trends to drive organizational transformation. With over 30 years of industry insight, Maureen has garnered a reputation as a credible change agent with a passion for innovation and an ability to align critical strategies with corporate objectives.