The ability of leaders to adapt to increasingly rapidly-changing environments is one of the crucial competencies highlighted in the brand-new book on leadership by Professors Jesse Segers and Koen Marichal ‘De kleren van de leider’. They offer 19 thoughts on futureproof leadership. These are 3 elements that resonated most with me:
- the evolution from a top-down approach to a model of shared leadership, bringing on board a diverse spectrum of views, connecting with external stakeholders and daring to challenge the status quo;
- the need to take up a more entrepreneurial, even activist role to make a real difference. Connect silos within the organization, lead by example and help your organization to fail forward;
- the capacity to become almost invisible, the main ingredients of leadership are the rest of the team, your role is to bring people together and inspire them to collaborate in a world of technology.
’75 percent of managers have no clue about what’s happening outside their company’ Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership at INSEAD
Hermina Ibarra, Professor of Leadership at INSEAD also stressed the importance of the ‘outside–in’ view during her Master Class for Antwerp Management School and HR Square in Brussels that I attended last June. Many leaders have a hard time engaging with people outside their comfort zone, offering new insights and ideas. Most leaders focus on getting better at what they are already good at, whereas dealing with constant change is the reality of modern leadership. They need to move from a hub role to a bridging role. ‘The vision thing’ as she calls it, i.e. real strategic thinking and doing, only gets done when you bring the outside world inside.
Remarkably, this also came up during a co-creation session with 50 leaders that we managed at Glassroots in May about the role of managers versus board members. Offering an external viewpoint came up several times as one of the key ingredients for a successful board. Challenge, challenge, and challenge again. It is impossible to futureproof your company if you don’t bring in the views of your customers, regulators, and other stakeholders that impact your success. This is one of the reasons why ensuring diversity in leadership, both in management teams and on boards of directors is so important.
Let us help you build a BCD network
While we are naturally attracted to people who are similar to ourselves, we actually need to do just the opposite, i.e. connect with people that are different. A good “BCD” network (breadth, connectivity and dynamic) is what makes the difference between a good manager and a great leader. So, make sure your leadership is future proof and start building that network of diverse stakeholders to stay ahead of the game. Two tips from Prof. Ibarra I am happy to share just to get you started:
- Don’t just attend network events, take on an active role: speak, chair or organize
- Renew your dormant ties, the people you once worked with can give twice as many new insights to your projects as your current ties, adding great value to your leadership.
What are you waiting for? At Glassroots we will be happy to help.
(a slightly different version of this article was first published as a guestblog for Antwerp Management School https://blog.antwerpmanagementschool.be/en/the-difference-between-a-good-manager-and-a-great-leader)