Written by Kristine Quade, JD, MSOD, HSDP
Environmental conditions are changing rapidly; in these shifting conditions, traditional leadership models are not working. Information is available to everyone, at any time. Social networks are eroding the established hierarchy. Product development cycle times are increasing at a shocking pace. Market conditions are being set by a different set of rules. How can any modern-day leader function effectively given these enormous challenges?
In these turbulent times where outcomes are unpredictable, those who lead dynamically are succeeding. Dynamical leaders pay attention to three conditions to ensure an effective, highly functioning organization: coherence, resilience, and fitness. The leader who masters these conditions will achieve what others say is impossible!
Coherence can be thought of as an interdependence of parts. An organization needs to be coherent with market conditions to remain a player in a given strategic space. Departments need coherence to ensure a strong coordination of activity. Teams need coherence of behavior to effectively work for the organization’s benefit. Patterns that build coherence are those that keep communication open and honest, ensure clarity of roles and responsibilities, build shared identity, and create a rhythm of high performance.
Resilience is the ability to integrate, re-calibrate and recover quickly when challenged. The normal inclination is to fall back to familiar ground, carefully exploring until the change becomes familiar once again. Resilient leaders are constantly placing themselves in unfamiliar conditions, stretching their capacity to absorb and adjust. They seek what is different in perspective, approach, or opinion; connect across boundaries; and explore new ideas and technologies like a curious scientist. Resilient leaders are constantly looking for constraints in their thinking, decision-making, relationships, and behavior. They actively explore their filters, viewpoints, and judgments, constantly seek ways to break constraints and keep themselves open and adaptable. Patterns that build resilience include utilization of multiple perspectives, ongoing learning, and establishing feedback mechanisms for recycling learning back into the system for continued expansion of potential. The cycle of exploration and knowledge generation comes from external markets, interactions with customers, attention to shifting conditions, and curiosity of teammates. A resilient leader notices patterns of creativity, exploration, collaboration, and integration.
Leaders who understand fitness are not thinking about athletics. Instead, they are constantly scanning their environment for potential surprises. They regard blips and trends as pieces of a larger puzzle to be solved. They know that these changes offer valuable information that beckons them to make meaning for their organization. These leaders have inquiring minds and seek to build organizational cultures that candidly talk about what is being noticed, are patient with different perspectives, and discern emerging patterns from random blips and trends.
How does paying attention to coherence, resilience and fitness ensure the capacity to accomplish what others think is impossible? Some leaders choose to focus their attention on building coherence. They focus on clarity of mission, vision, values, process improvements, performance objectives, and measurements. YES! These are needed and necessary. But they are not the only conditions for success. Coherence forms the ground floor of an effective organization, but what keeps an organization alive is resilience and fitness—the ability to adapt to what is important.
Sad as it may be, the environmental conditions we are experiencing now prohibit many organizations from developing a five-year strategic plan that is fully executionable. Dynamical leaders know their approach to business opportunities require constant vigilance for shifting environmental conditions and the ability to adapt with urgency. Operating in these conditions means that leaders must expand their focus grow their organizations capability to be resilient and fit into an environment of rapid change.
If you wish to learn more about this type of thinking and how to become a dynamical leader, check out the schedule for presentations and/or workshops on http://www.DynamicalLeadership.com .
Steve Wolinski provides leadership development, organizational change and talent management services to numerous public, private and non-profit organizations. Website, Email.