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In the VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) – in which we live, work, and play in an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – traditional leadership is failing. Not only does the top-down approach fail to adapt to the technological world of work, but it also fails to consider that today’s employees are more autonomous and independent, and their expectations are higher than ever before.
This poses a problem for organisations. Many leaders reach senior positions because of their technical performance or skills. Only once at this level do they realise that they might lack the people skills which are critical to be a good leader today.
To inspire trust, belief, and commitment in employees, it is necessary to approach the VUCA world with a VUCAR response framework (vision, understanding, capabilities, agility, resilience). To do this and develop people with the vision, understanding, capability, agility, and resilience they need to thrive in a world that is constantly changing, leaders need to adopt a transformational style of leadership.
Because leaders must develop their teams to scale and grow businesses, so they must turn their attention to doing this with their teams. They must accept it’s no longer about them and their performance as a technician, but crucial to develop teams and build strength across an organisation. This is where transformational leadership comes in.
Transformational leadership is leadership that is aimed at developing the leaders’ and followers’ mental models of the world, their emotional intelligence, self-confidence, and their feelings of efficacy or capability to make a difference in their lives and those around them.
It is said that the future of the workforce will be in jobs that have not even been invented yet. For this, we must develop skills for roles that are as yet unknown to us. This could be a strategy for us to invest in developing skills which are hard to automate. With these new skills, people will be able to adapt and survive better in this changing world.
If we want our people to be successful, they need to be able to handle change. They also need to have the right skillset, so they are not in a constant state of fear or panic.
One of the main differences between traditional and transformational leadership is the learning model that we adopt as leaders. We need to stop teaching people what to think and start teaching people how to think.
Therefore, we must emphasise experimentation, new ideas, and creativity. Not creativity in the artistic sense of the word, but to unlock a growth mindset which allows leaders and their people to think and behave in a more agile manner, adapting and growing rather than instructing and doing.
These skills used to be called ‘soft skills’ but to meet the future head on, these have become critical skills. All we can do and must do, is adapt, change, embrace etc.
Traditional leadership relies on people learning and behaving according to the theory of a socialised mind. This theory says that the actions and decisions of an individual are heavily influenced by others, such as friends and family, society, managers, and colleagues.
Yet, the last year has accelerated the shift of what is important to people – purpose, values, connecting, and autonomy. This requires an entirely different approach.
Applying the principle of adult development, we can shift leadership to help people develop self-authoring minds. By helping people discover and improve how to think, they will develop deeper emotional intelligence to upgrade their internal operating system rather than simply adding new technical skills. This outcome applies equally to leaders and their people. It helps develop the VUCAR response that is needed to be successful not only in today’s volatile world, but also in the uncertain future.
Today’s leaders must develop their own self-awareness to practice transformational leadership successfully. This can be a difficult journey, for it involves ‘looking in a mirror’ to increase the self-awareness necessary to change long-held limiting beliefs.
Only with this shift in mindset can the leader be present, aware, and mindful. It is this level of creative consciousness that allows the leader to have the positive impact with their people that is needed to deliver the VUCAR response to the VUCA world in which businesses operate today. For more information, click on the following links:
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