Anybody who believes that the business landscape is the same as it was in the ‘old days’ has their head well and truly buried in the 20th‐century . There is an evolution going on that is affecting the business world and how we lead and manage within it.
We are all being forced to rethink how we behave and what we do. The changes of greater society — changes in generations, gender dynamics and technology — are leading to a shift in business from large, highly structured corporate entities to agile, innovative entrepreneurial enterprises.
This evolution isn’t about to stop any time soon—if anything, the pace of change is only going to increase exponentially — and it is challenging us to rethink what we do, how we communicate with each other and how we will operate as individuals into the future. It is challenging us to develop new operating systems to future‐proof success. It is challenging us to learn to lead movements in a way that supports others feeling secure enough to think and act collaboratively.
The evolution is:
- Changing leadership styles from ‘tell’ to ‘engage’, with leadership now about inspiring and becoming truly authentic
- Evolving traditional business structures to become more fluid and blended
- Requiring innovation and invention as essential business tools as consumers want better products and services, delivered more quickly, than ever before
- Demanding agility and decisiveness as prerequisites in individuals, teams and leadership.
So what approaches will work in our rapidly changing environment?
- It Starts With You
Let’s get this straight – the starting point is you. You have to believe in yourself, first and foremost. Your dream and vision for yourself and your future is yours, and until you get this sorted there is no leading out. Choose to be someone who is brave, honest and authentic. Step in to your spotlight and share your message with conviction because being authentic benefits everyone. Have the confidence to emphasise your strengths, what you add in terms of value and most importantly your point of difference. Lead out and embrace diversity of thinking and opinion because that is where the opportunity exists.
- Embrace the collaborative economy.
The collaborative economy is where networks of diverse and connected individuals, communities and businesses work together to drive success. The power of this is inestimable as it connects people, businesses, skills, services, products and space to drive new opportunities and strategies for future‐proofing.
The collaborative economy is a space where if we are authentic, play by rules of openness and transparency and follow our passions, we have the opportunity to build collective intelligence, trust and connection, and surprise and influence many.
- Stop the talent drain
It makes economic sense to engage and collaborate commercially with women to gain balanced insight and leadership as part of strategic decision-making for the future. And yet it’s not happening, as it should.
Unless we collaborate, the lack of female leaders now will drastically affect the pipeline of female leaders for tomorrow. There will be no funneling of talent, no monitoring or active sponsoring of younger women– because the senior female leaders simply won’t be there to see these things put in place.
The lost investment in talent – in smart, savvy, knowledgeable and strong women who are able to make a difference and ensure that equality is kept – is astonishing, and yet organisations are willing to let this happen and incur the cost to re-recruit versus retain.
The disappearing female leader means a management team devoid of perspective. Decision-making is one-dimensional. Discussions around innovation, new product development, marketing and consumer engagement strategies become gender-silo’d. Unless we all collectively engage and take action that glass ceiling is never going to develop more than a few cracks.
4. Don’t sit back – speak up
Become someone that is willing to step out of status quo and challenge the baseline reality of the statistics on diversity. Speak up and become accountable for change, recognising the need to reach that little bit further or higher to make change happen. Take the leap and collaborate with others to mutual commercial benefit. Become a change maker.
If we don’t speak out we are not showing willingness to have the courageous conversations that will drive the change that is needed.
5. Connection: Build A Diverse Network
A powerful and diverse network can become your lifeline. It has the ability to transform, to give individuals and businesses an edge. As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
An effective network bridges smaller more diverse individuals with differing levels of expertise, age, gender and experience. Powerful networks are cross functional, cross hierarchical and cross industry delivering balance and diverse thinking. They provide;
- Company, market or wider industry information
- Influence through sharing insight, experience and connections
- Mentoring to accelerate your personal growth plan
- Energising you to take action, holding you accountable
- A sense of purpose, of balance and worth
The cross-fertilisation of connections, skills and ideas that are openly discussed and shared through network creation, in their turn create new opportunities, innovation and new solutions to existing problems. Build a circle of influence that understands what you want to achieve and whom you want to support in kind.
Be brave and diversify. Step out of your comfort zone, strategically expand your circle of influence, diversify your connections, and explore other people, businesses and experiences. Consciously consider who else you need to learn from, add value to, engage and collaborate with.
Explore the possibilities of what diversity and 100 per cent involvement could bring — how the benefits of a collaborative environment, one that is well-rounded, well influenced and well distributed, can widen perspective and create opportunities that have not as yet been tapped into.