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Say Goodbye to Beige Leadership

By April 2, 2019No Comments

Beige leaders lead beige companies and with this, a self-propagating disaster of decline begins.  

Quite simply – beige won’t cut it anymore.

The question is what colour is your leadership style or the style of those leaders in your team? Shades of beige, or a riot of ideation and colourful innovation?

Beige leaders are those who are complacent in their role of ‘superiority’.

They are accepting of traditional methods, and the way things have always been done.  They are more often than not in survival mode, keeping their heads down and hoping that by keeping things moving along in a ‘steady as they come, we’ve always done it this way’ pace, their future will be secured. Beige leaders do not entertain change and are closed to new ideas and creative thinking. They often lack vision and foresight, existing in the present and remaining close to the possibilities of what could be.

As a result, they are unable to inspire others and find it difficult to work with those who are forward-looking and curious about the possibilities of the future.  Beige leaders sit comfortably in the squishy status quo sofa, often more concerned with survival than growth.

Beige companies:

  • Find it difficult to compete with new players entering the market and challenging their products or services, delivering solutions that are better, quicker and even cheaper in some cases;
  • Are secretive and insular; decisions are made behind closed doors; mandates are shared in mass format; meetings consist of ‘tells’ and the nodding of heads — and the real debate happens in hushed voices at the water filter or coffee machines;
  • Lose customers as, unsurprisingly, they move their allegiance to the new kid on the block who is offering a better product with improved functionality or service and a value add to them, the client;
  • Struggle to attract, recruit and retain talent as staff become disengaged, products become stale, business slows down and profits decline;
  • Churn through the day making small adjustments and readjustments in the hope that these small actions will spark significant momentum in a rapidly changing world — but of course, it’s a mere blip.

The result?

Beige leaders lead beige companies and the self-propagating disaster of decline begins. Examples are everywhere from Atari as the leader to retro-gamer to Blockbuster no more – and as for waiting for the processing of that “Kodak moment’?

Quite simply, beige leadership won’t cut it anymore.

Boston Consulting Group states that organisations must today shift their business model and leadership skills to become more adaptive, to be better, faster and more economical than their competitors.  

The Harvard Business Review supports this sentiment in the article ‘The World of Leadership’ by Ronald A Heifetz and Donald L Laurie; ‘It’s tough when markets change and your people within the company don’t.’

Adaptability, agility and connectivity are critical leadership skills needed right now to unleash the brilliance within teams and organisations.

The future needs leaders:

  • Who are so comfortable in their space that they have the strength to lead and share, to learn and grow, who are actively curious and willing to give.
  • These leaders are capable of amplifying others.
  • They build a culture that encourages and enables sharing, a culture of commercial collaboration that drives change and innovation.
  • The leaders of the future are the ones who are authentic and real, see the value in collaborative working and who create the space and freedom to ideate regardless of gender, race, age or seniority.
  • They are agile, action-driven and results-oriented. They are focused and directional — strong in commitment and decisive in vision.

The people and businesses that will ultimately succeed will be the ones that are capable of evolution and innovation. They will keep their eye on the ultimate goal and be willing to change their dance as required to get there.

One thing is certain.  Beige leadership and the self-propagating disaster that shadows it every day has an ever-shortening life span as innovation, business structure and cultural and societal changes evolve at an increasingly rapid speed around them.  Beige won’t cut it anymore.

So pick up that paintbrush and add a touch of colour and authenticity to your leadership style – and maybe even see what magic is created when beige is replaced with colour.

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