On leadership: Your next 10 moves, think carefully!

What is your ‘next move’ as a leader? Well, of course that would depend exactly on what it is we are talking about, but here would be a variety of topics – and some suggestions as to your ‘next move’.

On ‘talent’:
Ask if your current strategy and HR plan is really working. Don’t ask those who designed it – go and ask those for whom the plan has been put in place – those you consider ‘talent’. You might just be surprised at what you hear.

On your life-work balance:
As a leader you probably don’t have a ‘life-work’ balance! But you should have a balance and the fact that you don’t, means that your direct reports don’t either. It is a dangerous and unsustainable situation. Think about what you can do to re-establish some sort of life-work equilibrium and then do it! Better still, ask your partner (and kids) what they think you could do to establish that balance – and listen!

Chess moveOn strategy:
The old models simply don’t translate in the fast, connected, complex and different world which now shapes our reality. It is not that they were bad models – they were excellent for…well, ‘the past’. Newer models are emerging and if you wish to see a glimpse of the future thinking when it comes to strategy, then read William Duggan’s, ‘Strategic Intuition’. There are two words that redefine the term oxymoron!

On leadership:
If you are not a ‘learner leader’ you are not fit to lead into the future. Being ‘future-fit’ as a leader will require you to be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn. Experience has never counted for as little as it does today when facing the exponentially changing and uncertain future. If that is all you are bringing to the party (your experience) you are in trouble (as is your organization). Write down something you feel you need to learn, unlearn and relearn…do it now.

On personal resilience:
You will need it to survive the future, but you know that already. Personal resilience depends (amongst other things) on having a hopeful picture of the future – something to live towards. What is this for you? If you can’t immediately articulate what it is, the chances are that you don’t have a compelling personal vision of hope for your future: the absence of which erodes your resilience.

On organisational resilience:
Organisational resilience depends on three things: (1) Opportunity to participate (2) Caring relationships and, (3) High expectations. How does your company rate in these three areas? If you are not certain then you may or may not be developing the DNA for resilience. Better to know that you are building resilience than hoping you are doing it.

On social media:
Two things you need to know about social media: (1) It is not optional. (2) It is a mind shift before it is a technology ‘buy’. Road test the adoption of social media in a select and contained area of your business before applying it to the broader spectrum. If you are clueless in this area, then do some reverse mentoring. Find a ‘bright young thing’ in your company and ask them to teach you how to ‘connect the dots’ in the world of social media. It will send out a powerful message and don’t believe that ‘old dogs cannot learn new tricks’.

On Leadership Development Programmes (LDPs):
If you leading a large organisation the chances are you spend a great deal on LDPs. The thinking is good but often the practice isn’t. Look at how you measure the success of these programmes – your ROI. Most current measures focus on the wrong things and little, if anything really changes. Authentic learning requires disruption, discomfort and challenge. Most current LDP models ‘play it too safe’ to facilitate real and sustained learning. If you are going to invite a business school or outsourced partner to deliver your LDP, then let them get on and do it. Too many L&D people (in your organisation) meddle in the design process and confuse the outcomes. Tell (the service provider) what it is you are looking for, how you would like to ultimately measure it, and then have them design something wild. Have the courage to let them do the real work needed. Evaluate after 6 or 12 months, not at the end of each module. If you don’t believe me that your L&D people are interfering then go and talk to your service provider (off the record of course) and get the real story. It may surprise you, assuming the service provider is bold enough to be honest!

On reading:
Too busy to read?… Yes? Then you are too busy. Select carefully what you read and get your people reading as a way to infuse learning and thinking throughout your team / company. Start a book club and leverage the insights and learning that emerge. It is easier than it may sound and will cost little other than some time. Ask me how to do this – I have seen it work. TomorrowToday also has a series titled, ‘Books 4 Leaders 2 Read’ – 42 books essential (in our opinion) to leading in the new world of work.

On your balcony:
Many leaders spend their time on the dance floor. However, if you want to see the trends, the patterns, then you need to be on the balcony, not the dance floor. It is from the balcony that leaders can detect the disruption that is heading your way, the game-changers that will hit you no matter how efficient you are, how much history you have and what market share you enjoy. A test as to whether you (and your team) are spending too much time on the dance floor is to simply review your executive agenda: if operational issues dominate then it is likely that your focus is the dance floor. Open-ended questions and discussion, learning, scenarios, reflection, new information and input, are all indicators of balcony-type agenda items. Where is your balcony and are you accessing it on a habitual basis?

It’s your move. Think carefully but don’t wait too long as the future is leaving!

One thought on “On leadership: Your next 10 moves, think carefully!”

  1. Tony B says:

    Dear Mr Coats

    I would add one more:

    On regular physical exercise : Are you as a leader getting regular physical exercise? Whether it’s walking the dog, running a marathon or partaking in off road mountain bike race. Th chemistry of regular exercise extends the shelf life of a leader, improves overall health, mindset and ability to lead.

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