Our environment is not complicated anymore – it's complex. No leader can continue to pretend to be competent in every single area of expertise needed by their organization. Today, when information is available anywhere and at any time, the ownership – and authority – of knowledge is constantly challenged. We are moving from “I know” to “I know how.”
From Baby Boomers to Generation Y: Changing leadership attitudes and behaviours
Different generations now work alongside one other in business organizations: Baby-Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Baby boomers have – mostly – created the success of the companies where they work. Generations Y and X (and soon Generation Z) will be responsible for taking this success to the next level.
However, these young professionals now work in a very different environment than their predecessors. For one, horizontal networks are replacing the traditional rigid pyramidal structure. Leaders are also much more likely to switch jobs, functions and companies throughout their career.
Information – jealously guarded by Baby Boomers as a source of power – is now freely available and shared by Generation Y-ers. Furthermore, the individual competitive tendency that sees business as a zero-sum game (“I win, you lose”) is being increasingly replaced by a collaborative approach (“I win, you win”).
The challenge for our future leaders
Knowledge is evolving so fast that lifelong learning for leaders – regardless of their level – is no longer a luxury; it is not even an option. More than ever, today’s leaders must relentlessly build their managers’ and employees’ skills, knowledge, and confidence to thrive in an increasingly complex environment.
A lack of confidence is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. It requires attitude more than aptitude. Having confidence means trusting in your own ability and in the whole team and organization. It allows teams to move fast, provided that mistakes are not only tolerated, but also accepted as valuable learnings. Confidence requires the ability to challenge your own attitude and is only valuable when shared by a critical mass of people.
In a change process, all key players who will be impacted by the shift need to be involved. If people are not part of the process and do not discover the power of new ideas that open up new value creation, it is all too easy for them to dismiss those ideas, resist change, and remain in their comfort zone – even when their practices are outdated.
Building leadership capabilities through experiential learning
Action learning, or experiential Learning as StratX ExL defines it, is an effective way to build confidence and create an organization that is ready for the future. Leaders across all functions and organizational levels experience the pains and benefits of a customer’s journey, learn to take a fresh perspective on building customer loyalty, and experience the abstract concept of lifetime value of customers in a wholly risk-free environment. They co-create value using a result-driven, collaborative approach.
The impact of experiential learning on attitude, behavior, and action is lasting: It reduces anxiety as it builds trust and confidence in team members. In a business simulation, it is the team that wins, not the individual. In this way, the paradigm of “I only trust what I see” evolves towards “I only see what I trust.” Customer-driven innovation thus becomes a part of the company’s DNA, as it permeates the organization and helps drive sustainable and profitable growth.
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