November 30, 2020
We are indeed living in highly turbulent times, VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Challenging and Ambiguous) is passé as the pandemic has given a whole new meaning to crisis and escalated it ten-fold to a new high. With a major economic recession looming large on the horizon, businesses have had to redraw strategic blueprints to avoid the operational cul-de-sac & develop the agility to take the right detour towards excellence and brace oneself against the impending fallout of the situation.
In these distressful and alarming times, all our homegrown and validated axioms on leadership may not be good enough to steer us through this unprecedented crisis. It is here that John Maxwell, Bestselling author & Leadership expert in his new book, LEADERSHIFT © 2019 outlines for us a pathway to growth through the exercise of nimbleness and adaptability that will help businesses to stay ahead of the curve by not only relying on speed but thriving on timing, innovating and making changes before they are necessary. Instead of staying the course, you can change your trajectory and position yourself to leverage on new and challenging opportunities.
We know very well that the only constant thing in life is change. But while we realize the need for change, what is still more important is to continue changing. How does a leader do more than just hang on and survive in today’s hostile and threatening environment? The key is to learn how to continually make Leadershifts and a Leadershift, according to Maxwell is an ability and willingness to make a leadership change that will positively enhance organizational and personal growth. Maxwell illustrates this beautifully by quoting a NYT article on Cheetahs which teaches us a lot about the importance of agility when it comes to success: Anyone who has watched a cheetah run down an antelope knows that these cats are impressively fast. But it turns out that speed is not the secret to their prodigious hunting skills: a novel study showed that a cheetah chases his prey by using a subtle combination of speed and agility…with a top speed of 58 mph it can suddenly decelerate to 9 mph within a single stride and with great agility can leap sideways, change directions abruptly and slow down suddenly thus outmanoeuvring its fast and nimble prey.
A recent study conducted identified the three top leadership qualities that are needed in today’s “BEYOND VUCA” world:
- Ability to motivate staff (35%)
- Ability to work well across cultures (34%)
- Ability to facilitate change (32%)
All these three qualities require Adaptability. Most recruiting firms today insist that almost 91 per cent of future recruiting in the workplace will be based on people’s ability to deal with change and uncertainty and the capability to change to fit new circumstances and situations.
According to Maxwell, “Good leaders adapt. They shift and Adaptability is the ability to sense the change in wind direction and alter course to take advantage of the shift. Leaders who Leadershift must be like water. They have to be fluid. Water finds a way; it makes a way. First, it changes with its circumstances. The environment dictates the change. But moving water is also forceful. It first moves around an object, but at the same time it begins moving the object. It can wear down solid rock over time. If you want to be an effective leader, you must Leadershift. You cannot be the same, think the same, and act the same if you hope to be successful in a world that does not remain the same.”
This is so true of today’s pandemic struck world. If we hope to get out of this quagmire soon, we will have to program into our minds the words of Albert Einstein: ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them’
The words of the nineteenth century preacher, Phillip Brooks, the author of the famous hymn, “O little town of Bethlehem”, should inspire us in our quest to break free and chart a new course for the future: “Sad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life he is living, with the thoughts he is thinking, with the deeds that he is doing, when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do.”
John Maxwell enumerates for us 7 important principles of LEADERSHIFT
CONTINUALLY LEARN, UNLEARN AND RELEARN – redundancy is the name of the game. We need to embrace change every day. We must be willing to let go of what worked yesterday and learn new ways of seeing, doing and leading.
VALUE YESTERDAY, BUT LIVE IN TODAY – People may honour you for what you did yesterday, but they respect you for what you are doing now.
RELY ON SPEED BUT THRIVE ON TIMING – For leaders, timing is critical. Good timing enables leaders to seize the moment and gain victory for the team When the leader sees the bandwagon, it’s too late to lead
SEE THE BIG PICTURE AS THE PICTURE KEEPS GETTING BIGGER –A leader must imbibe the process of layered learning as the picture becomes bigger and bigger. Leadership is all about growth and a leader learns to keep growing seeing the big picture getting bigger
LIVE IN TODAY BUT THINK OF TOMORROW –Leaders must have a natural bias for action & they must be proactive today for the sake of tomorrow
MOVE FORWARD COURAGEOUSLY IN THE FACE OF UNCERTAINTY – If there was no uncertainty, we would not need leaders. It requires courage to demonstrate leadership amidst uncertainty
REALIZE THAT TODAY’S BEST WILL NOT MEET TOMORROW’S CHALLENGES – Good is the enemy of the best, but best is the enemy of the better
It is the quality of our leadership and our ability to LEADERSHIFT that will decide how well we navigate through the fallout in the aftermath of covid-19. We may come out bruised and battered but with our spirits intact and strengthened by an inner resolve that we can be down but never out.