Whether you are a company that wants to attract top talent or an individual who is trying to land your dream job, or create a new business, it’s becoming clear that the future of work is both human and technology centred.
For us humans to be effective, productive & innovative, in the Digital Age, we must have great leaders who;
- Take a strategic, systemic & human centred approach to their role & work, who make it safe & possible for people to change, adapt & innovate.
- Lead from behind to harness & mobilize people’s potential because they know that skills like creativity & complex problems solving are the result of collaborative efforts, facilitated through teaming & networking across diverse groups, often in different locations.
- Enables & coaches people “on the job” & facilitates “lifelong” learning opportunities, which are more important than ever in resourcing people to deal with the speed & volume of change & uncertainty.
Entrepreneur as role model
Globally successful entrepreneurs are emerging as exciting, courageous & authentic new role models demonstrating many of the vital qualities required for effective 21st century leadership.
This is because they are re-inventing how to engage in the art of applying entrepreneurship & intrapreneurship practices to harness potential & mobilize human energy towards creating better future by;
- Developing creative ideas & innovative solutions to some of the world’s greatest societal challenges.
- Demonstrating deep values driven conviction, emotional integrity, individualism, creative energy, fearless & passionate purposefulness, coupled with determination & empathy.
- Knowing what it means to practice empathy through people & customer centricity.
- Being safely & intentionally different & provocative, to constantly disrupt & challenge the status quo.
- Being a willing emotional ally, who teaches, transforms, innovates & coaches others to create, invent & innovate.
Leadership as a way of life
For us humans to be effective, productive & innovative, we must have great leaders who also focus on making trust, humility, accountability, experimentation, collaboration, digitization, innovation within a commercially astute context, a way of organizational life. Doing this ensures that their people & their company constantly deliver increased value for customers. It also ensures that they drive success within their ever-expanding areas of influence & responsibility, to flow & flourish in uncertain times.
At ImagineNation™ we embraced these elements when we designed our Innovation Leadership Framework, focussing on developing people’s capability to embody & enact 7 key Leadership Roles, which we believe are necessary to survive & thrive, by adapting, learning, innovating & growing in uncertain times.
These 7 roles deliver valuable innovative organizational solutions;
- Explorer; means being fully present to self & others, being mindful & adaptive to change & uncertainty, to emerge, diverge & converge, & connect creative ideas & trends that embrace people, process & technology.
- Inquirer; means being positively optimistic, inquisitive & foresighted about the present & the future, having mental flexibility thru critical & creative thinking capability to synthesize, clarify, ideate & develop ideas that embrace people, process & technology to potentially extrapolate the future.
- Pioneer; means being trustworthy, brave, passionate & intentional in creating an environment applying design thinking principles & iterative practices, making it safe for people to take smart risks, improvise, experiment & fail fast where trying is valued as learning.
- Cultivator; means being humanistic, vulnerable & empathic to self-manage & regulate in safe ways to ignite, harness, mobilize & maximize people, teams & business units potential through coaching, encouraging people to take smart risks, add value, when innovating to achieve own, people, team, business & customer goals & improve their overall experience.
- Convincer; means demonstrating conviction in the innovation purpose & vision, being open to possibilities, being flexible in “not knowing” in the face of VUCA conditions, being astute & rigorous in risk taking, dealing with fear, removing barriers & obstacles to create readiness & receptivity to innovation & in eliciting creative ideas.
- Co-creator; means being creative, seeing, responding to & solving problems generatively through play, playfulness & improvisation, sensing, listening, inquiring & debating to intentionally & safely challenge & disrupt how people perceive the status quo to co-create & deliver desired outcomes.
- Connector; means being both a team leader & member in co-operating across geographies, demographics & functions to break down silos, navigate & build networks, creating eco-systems that maximize differences & diversity to implement & deliver desired outcomes.
“On the job” & “lifelong” learning in 21st century leadership
With the advent of the Digital Age, our research reveals that corporate learning can no longer be divided into a place & time (workshops) to acquire knowledge & a place & time to apply the knowledge acquired (workplace). In VUCA times, where we cannot predict or control events, we need a new sensemaking skillset that enables us to respond to the question – “How do we make sense of the world so we can act in it?” Learning to be an effective 21st century leader is most effective when it takes place on an ongoing & “on the job” basis, as well as from the feedback from our daily interactions with others & from the worlds we operate within.
As humans, we need to know how to apply learning as a mechanism for creating situational awareness & an understanding of highly complex systems & situations in order to take intelligent actions & decisions by;
- Making sense of the relationship & connections between what is old & what is new & is constructed by individuals or groups making sense of their experiential worlds.
Recipes for 21st century leadership learning
This suggests that 21st century leadership learning programs are most effective when they focus on cultivating new mindsets, creative, critical & foresight thinking strategies & develop the ability to anticipate, adapt & develop new behaviours & take intelligent actions.
All of which require experimentation, repetition & continuous practice to refine & master, & are best delivered through a range of micro & macro, blended learning options, depending on the desired change or learning outcomes.
This customized approach includes an integrated, bespoke recipe of a combination of these key elements;
- Face to face learning events & workshops to engage people & introduce concepts & principles & experiment with techniques to get immediate feedback when refining & applying them “on the job” now & in the future.
- Experiential & playful improvisational activities for people to experiment & fail fast, that bring theory to “life” & create memorable moments for observation, & for retreat & reflection necessary to emerge distinctions as to the most effective mindsets, behaviours & skills to apply “on the job” to maximise their use of time & resources.
- Evidence & team-based action learning assignments to create opportunities for collaborating across boundaries, to experiment, test, iterate & pivot concepts, principles & techniques “on the job” now & in the future.
- Playful business simulations to create permission & safety for stretching & challenging people to exit their comfort zones & learn to experiment in being creative & collaborative, by failing fast.
- One on one, peer & team coaching to enhance “on the job” learning, skills & effectiveness & cultivate “lifelong” resources & capabilities.
- Online “sandwich” learning micro components including webinars, coaching, video bots & MOOC’s that give people the freedom to take responsibility for their own learning processes, collaborate with others, & manage time & financial constraints.
The ultimate measure of effectiveness for 21st century leaders
When asking “what are people for”, in his book “Sensmaking” author, Christina Madsbjerg, responds by stating that “People are for making & interpreting meaning”.
That we should be using both human science tools and technology, to optimize both ourselves and technology to scale, innovate when finding solutions to the world’s most difficult problems. It will enable us to better structure the unknown so as to be able to act in it.
“The ultimate measure of effectiveness for leaders is the ability to sustain superior results over an extended period of time. Organizations filled with aligned, empowered & collaborative employees focused on serving customers will outperform hierarchical organizations every time. Top-down leaders may achieve near-term results, but only authentic leaders can galvanize the entire organization to sustain long-term performance.
At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.
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Janet Sernack is an ICF ACC accredited executive coach, corporate trainer, group facilitator and culture and change consultant with some of Australia’s and Israel’s top 100 companies. She is the Founder of ImagineNation™ an innovation education company that provides innovation e-learning programs including The Coach for Innovators Certified Program™ experiential learning events including The Start-Up Game™. Follow @JanetSernack