5 years ago I attended a leadership training program for women in Tech. I learned many life lessons during this programme but the one I remember vividly was “If you have a bad boss, leave!”, and as the popular saying goes “ employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit a boss.”
Bad management is often caused by a person being inadequate for a leader position. We do know, however, that a bad manager is not the only reason people leave, a recent study of why people left Facebook found that they left when their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers. The issue, however, is that it’s often the manager who is responsible for what the job is like.
The leader role has changed dramatically during the last years, it has gone from the team serving the leader to the leader serving the team. In the industrial times the manager was the one who was the oldest, strongest and most experienced. Today, in the digital age, we talk about servant leadership where the leader shares power, puts the needs of the employees first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
The quickly evolving environment, introduction of disruptive technology, democratisation of information and war for talent are changing the way organisations and people work. McKinsey are talking about the move from organisations as machines to organisations as a living organism. We move from hierarchy and bureaucracy to network of empowered teams and shared purpose. Our brains are struggling to keep up and this requires a huge shift in mindset.
So, in this quickly evolving environment, what is required from a leader?
Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership where a leader works with teams to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group. Transformational leadership can inspire workers to embrace change by fostering a company culture of accountability, ownership and workplace autonomy. There are four components to transformational leadership:
Idealized influence — the leader serves as a role model for the qualities she/he wants in the team “walk the talk”.
Inspirational motivation — the leader inspire and motivate through having a clear vision
Individualised consideration — the leader demonstrate genuine concern for the team member and help them self-actualise.
Intellectual stimulation — the leader challenges the team to be innovative and creative to reach higher level of performance.
According to Singularity University it’s not enough to serve your team, they talk about the four pillars of exponential leadership, critical skills leaders must learn to successfully navigate a rapidly changing world:
The Futurist — imagining new possibilities boldly and optimistically — and understanding they are quite likely to arise sooner than expected.
The Innovator — discovering new ideas through creative ideation and rigorous experimentation.
The Technologist — leaders have to understand which technologies will directly impact their industry and which will affect adjacent industries.
The Humanitarian — building a business using technology to create positive impact. It can also mean investing in humane policies and practices that create a positive culture and a meaningful work environment.
By practicing these new skills, leaders can improve their capacity to anticipate change, but also make proactive choices leading to more positive, productive futures for their organizations, communities and the world.
The leadership role is changing and we need a new breed of leaders to keep up in this quickly evolving environment. I have had my share of different kind of leaders, I even left a few, the most frustrating part for me is when a leader doesn’t realise that he or she is a role model.
We don’t have all the answers but a company with a transformational and exponential leadership style is definitely a company I would like to work for.