In these VUCA (Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous) times, what’s next seems to be top of everyone’s mind these days from the coffee shop to the board room. So it seemed pretty obvious that when Dr. Liz Alexander and Geeks Geezers and Googlization host and TEDx Speaker Ira S Wolfe got together to discuss the future of work that what’s next in leadership would kick off the conversation. Here are 3 take-aways from this podcast.
The Ambiguity of Leadership
Did you ever wonder why most descriptions of leadership begin with an adjective – authentic, visionary, transformational, or spiritual? Dr. Liz shared a recent situation where someone on LinkedIn posted a question to describe leadership in one word…and over 20,000 responses were recorded! The diversity of answers amplified the ambiguity of leadership. Therefore any discussion of what’s next must start with a universal agreement about what leadership means to individuals and organization. She paraphrases Joel Barker’s definition of leadership as one example – someone that you might choose to follow to reach a desired future you may not reach by yourself.
The Future Demands a Different Resume
Too often people conflate a title of leadership with the role. Many people with the title of let’s say Vice-President may fill the box on an organizational chart but lack the ability to lead the business function. The problem with leadership today, says Dr. Liz, is that too many people are bound up by past notions of who is next in line rather than who is best qualified to lead. One example she offered was past leadership focused on the ability to solve problems. Today leadership requires the ability to decode dilemmas where there are no clear cut choices. Solving problems requires speed, analysis, and elimination of uncertainty. Dilemmas demand patience, sense-making, and an engagement with uncertainty. Leadership in the vision requires more than a mission to correct the wrongs of the past. It requires a vision of the future.
21st Century Critical Skills off Leadership
Because a dilemma reached beyond the capability of any one individual or group, solutions require collaboration between co-workers, colleagues, and even the competition. That is just one of 6 leadership skills required to excel in a VUCA world. Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of Priceline, shared another which he calls info-sponging, a habit borne from curiosity. Other essential leadership skills for the 21st century include conscientiousness, creativity, critical thinking, and agility.
What’s the single most important single “nugget” you will learn? Listen now.