Constant change and unpredictability in the business world means that the only certainty for leaders currently is yet more uncertainty. It isn’t just services, products and organisations that are having to be reinvented but leadership skillsets, too. As well as analysis of the factors affecting organisations like multi generational workforces, digital transformation, constant disruption and the shift towards automated and remote working workforces, redefining leadership requires imagination and creative thought on the part of today’s leaders. To help equip leaders to face these future challenges, Rialto is continuing to research the future capabilities and skillsets that are important based on the experiences of Leaders across multiple organisations on current and predicted market trends. The research feeds into the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (RALI), which enables leaders to benchmark their capabilities and skillsets. Our latest findings have highlighted the following leadership requirements
Leaders must never lose sight of the importance of being able to devise a strategy and vision and effectively communicating it to the workforce so everyone is aligned behind it. In todays’ remote working setting, the language and frequency of communications used to achieve this is extremely important. Leaders must ensure that what they say and the tone of voice is both inclusive and engaging for every segment of the workforce. In an era of multi-generational workforces, this is all important. Much has been made of the importance of the authentic leader in recent years and this continues to gain traction. To believe in a strategy and vision, employees need to have trust in the leader putting it forward. Leaders must be who they claim to be and this means upholding the corporate values and behavioral standards both in person but now more than ever from afar. In the current operating environment, it is highly likely that the vision and strategy will be underpinned by transformational change and communicating this brings additional challenges. Employees can be fearful of change, especially if it feels enforced.
Employees want their leaders to be visionary and charismatic but there must also be substance and pragmatism behind both the strategy and the vision. In the complex and unpredictable operating conditions that exist, there is no room for leadership rhetoric and vision and actions really must speak louder than words.
Digital navigators don’t have to be technological whizzkids but do need to understand where the organisation fits into the digital revolution and how to make sense of new and emerging technologies to ensure they hold credibility and can stay a step ahead of the competition. They will have closely observed what has happened in the era of digital transformation to date and gleaned what works and what doesn’t. They will have an enthusiasm for technology but are not blindsided by it. Digital navigators do not have all the answers and understand the importance of keeping an open mind because when new technology emerges, it isn’t always apparent how it can be best deployed. Digital navigators are also important because they can help embed a digital mindset into the leadership team. Some boards have failed to connect with digital transformation programs and absolved responsibility for them. In the current climate, that simply isn’t an option.
The past 12 months has continued to see heightened importance placed on both customer (CX) and employee experience (EX) and the two are increasingly seen as intrinsically linked.
What is really building momentum in this area though is the recognition that delivering a great employee experience is critical to business success. Ensure that your people want to work and love doing their jobs and it will translate into a great customer experience. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time now to reset the employee experience to create a more meaningful and lasting emotional connection between the employee and employer. Despite this being a technological age, with increasing levels of automation within many organisations, people will continue to be the real differentiator and their actions will have a direct impact on the bottom line. An employer which understands the correlation between an exceptional employee experience and the customer’s experience of the organisation, its products and its service will be the winner.
Future leaders must be able to think on their feet to react and adapt to the constantly changing business conditions that have become the norm. It’s no surprise then that agility and adaptability feature on nearly every leadership hot skills list. Agility enables a leader to adapt, flex and respond to new business opportunities or, conversely, change course if they see danger/problems ahead. The speed of technological change has shortened product lifecycles and business lead times, increasing pressures for any organisation that is trying to compete in the digital economy. Agile and adaptable leaders create agile and adaptable organisations that can respond and reinvent themselves to keep pace with the competition. There is another ‘A’ that needs to be added to the list though: acumen. Needless to say that leaders need business acumen but not only is it required for boardroom decisions and business deals but to manage the increasingly complex set of multi stakeholder relationships that organisations find themselves forging.
It’s imperative for organisations to constantly innovate and reinvent themselves to stay ahead of the curve. Leaders must be able to spot the talent in their organisation who can change the game and in some cases the course and fortunes of the company. While not everyone has the personality traits of true game-changers, everyone can be encouraged to adopt a game-changing mindset and it is paramount that leaders recognise its importance. Game-changers can disrupt entire industries and create news ones. In a world impacted by both the global pandemics and economic downturns, they are even more vital to have in an organisation. With the right people and blend of skills and characteristics to support them, their full potential can be harnessed with minimal downsides for the organisation or those around them. Business leaders must therefore make certain that senior colleagues and board members understand the role of the game-changer and their purpose as those who are resistant to change or risk averse may struggle to tolerate them. Indeed, game-changers can be risky individuals who enjoy living outside of comfort zones and breaking the rules. But at a time when many organisations are seeking daring new ways to set themselves apart from the crowd and win new customers as well as retain existing ones, game-changers hold the key. And it is only those leaders with an understanding of game-changing mindsets that will be able to translate ideas into workable new products, services or solutions for the organisation to elevate itself above the competition
Doubtless we will see the future leadership capabilities & skillsets continually added to as Rialto progresses through its 10-year project. Certainly, some of those skills highlighted today like agility and adaptability will continue to be highly significant for several years to come. Equally, softer qualities which we haven’t highlighted today, for instance, a high level of collaboration and emotional intelligence will also be required so leaders can empathise with how the workforce is feeling as we embark on transformational change.