Strategy and leadership development requires skills and talents, as well as experience to cement them. Without the talents and skills, you will never develop beyond a set point. Skills are about a leaders’ ability to use leverage and maximize the impact of his or her people’s efforts through the utilization of both leadership and strategy. True strategic Leaders harness the whole, by being able to direct its parts, so that the organisations power is released to achieve goals with, fast and accurately. It’s truly a mix of skills, and talents required to get the right mix to become a strategist. Where talents are seen as more of a cognitive ability – the ability to motivate, think and communicate well. This then becomes the leaders style, it’s all about who has it and who doesn’t – STYLE. The crux of the matter is this; even if you know what good leadership is, do you have “all of the tools in the shed to make a good garden”, and maintain and develop it? These “tools” relate to, experience, skills, and budgets available, to really get yourself, your team and your organization beyond that set point, that invisible barrier? These two fundamental elements are in short supply – Strategy and Leadership – are now becoming another scarce resource, due to a shortage of talented and skilled people. Even in organisation where Strategyis still about shaping a future direction with objectives – and through leadership activities, directing effort to achieve these aims and objectives with, even here we find that only half of them develop these resources actively.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy, because there are no right or wrong answers here, only judgement calls, and decisions having far reaching consequences, and also in some cases in-decisions having the same effect – just in an opposite direction. Whatever the case may be, we rise and fall with what we decided today, as soon as tomorrow… The alarming fact that there is now an observable global lack of true executive talent and skills development is showing already and it could derail your future business strategy, because of the following aspects:
- The requirements on leadership have changed vastly, although the principles of leadership will stay the same, it’s more the way structures and strategy has had to change – the way we do business – in order to deliver the same results of say ten years back. This type of leadership skills that drove past success is no longer sufficient or even effective today; we need a wider scope of skills and talent to cope with today’s challenges. Management and networking are some of the soft skills, and the hard ones are advanced computer literacy and systems proficiency.
- There is also a significant amount of key leaders nearing retirement, with no clear replacement criteria for them, or trained up candidates – junior cadet executives, neither with a criteria or view of what it will truly require to have a good fit between current requirements and future demands on the role and function of our future leadership positions. We just don’t know how this gap will be closed, as we don’t even know how wide it is, and what will be required to bridge or fill it, so to say.
- Performance – as a measure of management is the only system that is currently used, and still, results are not what we expected – even with performance management criteria in place. Way too much incompetence is at the head, and it dilutes into wasted time, opportunity and money, this is evident of the talent gap left. Not to mention corruption, and indecision throughout the organisation.
- Personal integrity, and character witness statements was not even a job requirement, until 15 years back, when character references, and criminal, as well as financial status reports have now become compulsory requirements for just about any job interview.
- Educational Qualifications to some extentare becoming obsolete, they are just no longer worth their merit when hiring people; especially with degrees and higher qualifications – they just don’t have the impact they had just ten years back. The rate of change and putting things learnt into practice is just not fitting in with what they find in the work place. Then we also find way too many institutions offering some form of qualification – corrupted the system – the paper some of these so called qualifications are printed on seems to be wasted. Still more, and to squarely to blame for it, is a global substandard of schooling and tertiary education systems, it seems, that the pass rates are artificial. Higher education is not helping either. It has become way to expensive and time consuming to still pursue a degree once in a managerial position. With no guarantees of a good or better job even, even when you have a master’s degree. You could become over qualified today?
Should we be bridging the gap or filling it up? You cannot manage what you cannot measure; so how are you doing this? It is only natural to want to know how your leaders stack up to other companies leaders, but it’s not necessarily always relevant. When we want to bridge the gap between old and new, we need to be focused, because if we focus on the wrong reference point when assessing the criteria for replacement, it could prove disastrous. Instead, we should focus on our own business strategy and leadership requirements, and assess leaders against these core business requirements, and not some business philosophy or best practice – normally a HR standard advert with the job description as – standard practice and recruitment benchmark.
No, failure walks through the door, only if we employ it. Instead we require business-specific measures and requirements; the specific horses for specific courses – conundrum. Then we still have leadership development, sourcing and training from within – this effort should start with an assessment of the strategy and future direction of the business and what this means for current and future leaders of the organization. So in fact we only have these two options; one is to bridge the gap, by hiring professionals, dually or suitably qualified, and then two is by filling the gap with in-house training and development – mentoring…
Transforming the paradigm of leadership In the same way the world as we know it is coming to an end, so too is traditional leadership… The truth of the matter is this; we are not all equally blessed, with talent and skills. Therefore, we are not all destined to be great leaders, and or managers at the same token. Let the truth be told. Some don’t care about taking on these roles at all, and will rather want to be lead and others still will want to be managed, and still more will only want to be lead, and others only be managed.
This is the rich soup of corporate cultural diversity. It is complicated, erratic and diverse habitat – the corporate world is unique in many aspects and yet dissimilar in every other… The world has become obsessed with change… and we have tried every business container – acronym – known to get the right fit for it. Some go so far as to say it’s pregnant with change. The essence then, is this; the future of strategy and leadership is then in its infancy, even in its embryonic state then, and it is time then to prepare for a totally new arrival; business unusual. With the business unusual concept; we groom infants into strong adults, from cradle to cradle – grooming of strategic leadership talents and traits should become ongoing and a subject at school already. Then combining and strengthening it with skills. We can’t wait to groom leaders only at the stage where they come out the starting gates; time is not on our side. We should start much earlier in life. At school we currently only teach them to compete?
Those who want to lead by any other doctrine will become lost, amid all the chaos and uncertainty of future demands for sure. We should instead become focused; by getting a firm grip of what we want from our education, with long term strategies instinctively investing in leadership development, and succession planning. This is a holistic strategic approach to managing ongoing growth and potential, from cradle to cradle – by investing in human capital. Now it gets interesting. The second prong is to diversify, and become inclusive of all the sub cultures, or to become exclusive. People need to have a choice in which direction they would like to excel.
With inclusive and exclusive cultural models we look at social structures to mange processes with, in some instance one would like diversity and creativity, in other instance we require strict set production rules. Then we see culture emerge, from this design. We should choose right, for they differ vastly and so too their leaders make up and mindsets. Starting with their ideas, and different perspectives and opinions, this brings forth greater creativity and innovation. However, the warning is this, with diversity we get polarity, and also less risk taking, and more indecision and bigger lag times. This as a principle cuts into authenticity as well. So you can’t have both, you either have one, a plain vanilla or a rainbow flavour, as a corporate culture. Or sub culture. Can the leader fit into the situation? Only when we have strategically decided which culture to foster then, and promote, and to produce more of, do we have direction. Then only should we choose the types of leaders best suited for these scenarios.
Not all leaders can cope with the diversity or the autocracy or the liberal, we prefer one not both, of either form of corporate culture. We are programmed to be bias to one or the other…take note.
In conclusion; the skills most critical to success for future generations has been identified as strategic thinking – problem solving – that can be complimented with actual strategic skills – planning, and our talents – to communicate effectively, our ability to inspire leadership…taking ownership and directing and make it come to life in all those around us. Active leadership behaviour stems from mostly ethnic cultural influences and also social skill, derived from being social, and dealing with the pressures and interactions of others – this building our emotional intelligence. Stressors originate from a lack of these interactions and sharpening of skills and an inability – lack of talent to overcome and utilise our skills and talents – to our advantage, then the world beyond our experience, builds us with possibility or destroys us with a lack of knowledge and fear.