We are living in a different world—we’ve seen how the problems and mistakes of one country or region have the significant potential to impact other countries in a very short amount of time, as we all witnessed in the recent economic crisis. Our increasingly interconnected global economy also brings new challenges to leaders and organizations. As the world has changed, have our business and leadership models changed? How many leaders are actually prepared for continuous global growth? What will it take for organizations to thrive in a global economy?
The Awaken Group, a global consulting firm, recently sought to understand how and if leaders and their organizations' priorities shifted after the recent financial crisis. The Awaken Group surveyed over 100 U.S. business leaders, through its Global Leaderhsip Survey, to gain insight into their thoughts around priorities, challenges, current strategies for preparing for global growth, and what they believed was required for global leadership. Many leaders admitted their lack of preparation for global growth; in fact, only a third of those surveyed felt very prepared.
As a result of the research findings, one thing became very clear: leaders and organizations need to redefine leadership to address new global challenges; they need to change how they lead and manage companies. Many leaders recognize that the strategies that worked in the past are not enough, or not working anymore. We’re in a whole new era of leadership.
A new model of global leadership is needed—one that is based on “human,” creative and adaptive leadership.
- “Human” leadership gets back to the basics of human needs and motivations which include innate desires for meaning, purpose, progress and relationships. This involves viewing people as “human capital” and as “assets” rather than as “human resources.” Resources are easily expendable and drawn upon on an as needed basis, whereas assets are highly valued and treasured. Valuing people builds trust, and trust cultivates loyalty.
- Creative leadership finds innovative ways to overcome challenges by focusing on opportunities and possibilities rather than only on problems. Creativity stems from exploring new ideas, taking risks, having fun, brainstorming, and it even allows room for making mistakes. Creative leadership celebrates diversity and encourages people to ‘think outside the box’ and be free to work within their unique strengths and talents. Every individual has tremendous potential for creativity. Often times, they simply need the right environment to unleash creativity.
- Adaptive leadership is about adapting to constant change and being culturally adaptable. Adaptive organizations respond quickly when things don’t go as planned; they can quickly shift gears to minimize loss and keep moving forward. They are focused and clear on how to achieve goals and have effective systems in place that allow them to be fast and innovative. They are also culturally adaptable which is required for global growth. How can you succeed in a new market without understanding the local culture and needs of the customers? Culturally adaptable leaders and organizations respect cultural differences and understand that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ model; they are flexible yet stay true to their core values.
- “Human” leadership: When companies invest in people and truly value their people, and aim to maximize their strengths and tap into their potential, this will affect every aspect of business—from how they create the culture they desire, to how they hire and retain talented people (a challenge that many businesses face). This mindset of valuing people will then also impact product quality and customer service.
- Creative leadership: Creative environments take the work out of work because they are fun and, by allowing room for mistakes, it also reduces fear in the workplace. People feel more empowered to take risks, test new ideas, and pursue paths never taken before. How exciting is that? Innovative solutions, products and services are often the result of creative leadership which have a direct impact on competing and thriving in a global economy.
- Adaptive leadership: A key difference between adaptive organizations and those that are not is that they anticipate constant change, not only respond to change, so they are better prepared and proactive in difficult situations. Customers respond better to culturally adaptable organizations and leaders who understand and meet their needs; this has direct impact on global growth and long-term success for an organization.
- Dream: Have a clear vision around who you want to be
- Discover: Assess what is required within your organization to compete globally and identify any gaps in your strategy
- Design: Identify what you need to turn your vision into reality
- Prototype: Test new ideas and potential solutions quickly
- Create: Invest in resources and tools to institutionalize solutions that further develop global capabilities purposefully and in ways that are aligned to your strategy