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Three Perspectives: The Future of Leadership Development

2 min read

Organizations that embrace shared leadership, a strong culture and creativity have a better shot at navigating the exciting and challenging times ahead.

Within the past 24 hours I stumbled across three interesting perspectives on Leadership in today’s world; each with a common thread but a slightly different idea about what to do about it.

The common thread may not be surprising. The world we live in is a complex, volatile and fragile interconnected system. The 2009 economic collapse changed the game entirely. Leadership is now distributed across functions, continents and cultures more than ever—so how will this impact trends in Leadership Development?

Perspective #1: Build Shared Leadership Skills
As part of a recent HBR blog series entitled “Imagining the Future of Leadership,” Trina Soske and Jay Conger lament the fact that although investment in it has increased, traditional leadership development does not adequately address the needs of today’s world. They state, “Most challenges and opportunities are systemic. Leadership is distributed and change now requires a collective sense and a coordinated set of actions.” They recommend a shift away from developing the competencies of the individual “Hero Leader” to building the skills that support the kind of shared leadership that is increasingly the current business construct.

Perspective #2: Encourage a Collaborative Culture
In a June 14th Newsweek article, Cisco CEO John Chambers acknowledges the increasing need for collaboration across functional areas within his organization. His job is to create a strong culture that promotes collaboration and teamwork—it’s no longer the command and control approach many leaders were taught in business school. Says Chambers: “80 to 90% of the job is how we work together toward common goals, which requires a different skill set.”

Perspective #3: The Importance of Creativity
In the recently published CEO study from IBM, CEO Samuel Palmisano notes that complexity, caused by global integration, is the biggest challenge facing corporate leaders today. Today’s world is connected through many different dimensions which requires “systems-level thinking about the effectiveness of its physical and digital infrastructures.” According to the 1,500 CEO’s interviewed for the report, “creativity” is the single most important leadership competency to address the complexity today’s leaders face. Creative leaders shake things up and drive fresh initiatives. They interact well with a broad range of roles, generations and leadership styles. They take risks and aren’t boxed in by the status quo.

Despite the uncertainty and volatility we’re all facing, I find the takeaways from these articles to be inspiring: Organizations that embrace shared leadership, a strong culture, and creativity have a better shot at navigating the exciting and challenging times ahead.


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