What’s in your transformation zone now?

Now, here in the UK in July 2020, organisations of all types are reviewing their investment priorities, especially in the face of a growing recession.

That challenge brings into sharp focus the impact of your people strategy. Significant job losses announced yesterday in two major High Street brands are an indicator of what leadership challenges lie ahead, in organisations, local or global.

Measuring leadership effectiveness

Presuming your role as a business leader is to drive your team towards a measurable and sustained improvement in business performance, then what conditions support that success?

I would argue that there is an interplay of three core factors that underpin that question.

  1. Current and future market challenges and the way you address them in your present market strategy;
  2. The individual response you make as a leader to those challenges – including your style, values, skills, and the networks you draw on to support you;
  3. The organisation’s response, captured in its culture and how that supports you with various policies, processes and systems.

Your transformation zone

Your transformation zone sits where these three factors intersect, and how you respond to them defines your success. Successful businesses change their business strategy in response to market challenges. That often requires some form of organisational change and consequential leadership responses. My experience tells me that these three responses are rarely fully synchronised.

What’s impacting your transformation zone right now?

Organisations face significant market challenges right now, and these will impact on how you respond as a leader. The global pandemic has driven fast, volatile, and complex change, with its ripples reaching the far corners of our world. Accompanying that change is increasing social and environmental awareness, a rapid mobilisation in technology, especially online working and buying, and in the UK, increased state intervention, the likes of which I have never seen.

How does that affect me as a leader?

Embracing and responding to these challenges will be critical for you and your organisation to December 2020, and way beyond. How do you do that? I believe you need to draw on several essential characteristics.

Six essential leadership qualities

  • Authenticity -  now, more than ever before, people are stressed, pressured, and not a little scared about what the future will bring. So, your leadership test is to demonstrate that values drive your actions, that you are authentic. The real, vibrant you will stimulate others to contribute hearts and minds, not just energy and effort.
  • Remote, networking leadership – leading your team or organisation, often virtually, requires mutual trust, respect, and collective action on opinions and ideas. Direction—short, mid and long-term—then becomes the province of all, not just you.
  • People developer – where the pace of innovation and technological change accelerates and collective decision-making is the way, growing your people becomes a priority. They will want more than payment and the odd perk, and you need to stand ready to deliver on that. You will need to hone those people development skills and assets, and keep your saw sharpened.
  • Be a strategist – you will need to think bigger picture and longer-term to embrace the pace of change, shifts in business models, and emerging markets ahead, primarily because opportunity always comes hand in hand with a recession.
  • Transformational change agent – managing challenges across many organisational and geographic boundaries require you to gain both your staff and customers’ mandate for change. I love the ‘being-seeing-doing’ framework by Peter Fuda, which is a straightforward model that describes the inherent qualities needed to fulfil this role.
  • Adaptive leadership­ – as an example, the shift to online working has been unprecedented in recent months. That switch for many was uncomfortable, scary and off-putting. As a leader, I believe you should lead by example. So, if adapting technology to your emerging business model is not you, make it so. That way, you can embrace better innovations and opportunities and enable your organisation to adapt and thrive.

With increasing market pressures, growing diversity in your customer profiles, and competition like never before, here’s a final question for you. How big is the gap between your present and future leadership capabilities?

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