“I just don’t have time!”

How many times have we heard people say this, or said it ourselves?

In 2006, Dr. André Martin for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) analyzed global trends to paint a picture of the challenges and needs facing organizations as they seek to develop leaders who will guide them through the complexity and uncertainty of the future.[1]

His research was conducted on a sample of 800 leaders. Their age range was 29-70, and they were leaders in organization’s ranging in size from 11 employees to 10,000. Sixty percent of the sample was male, with top executives representing about 30 percent of them. Although 52.7 percent were U.S based, 28 countries were represented.

Dr. Martin’s primary assumption is that the global landscape is changing rapidly and introducing new challenges for leaders that they may not have been prepared for.

He highlights various authors, of which Juan Enriques, in As the Future Catches You, argues that the time span in which leaders have to prepare for change gives people twenty-four hours compared to years.[2]

Malcolm Gladwell in two of his books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, says that society has reached a pivotal point requiring us to make decisions faster, and do it better and more effectively.[3]

Martin identifies four global trends from his research that I will address in a two-part series.

The first trend was defined as the Ground Truth of Globalization.

This trend states the obvious. The world has changed, and leaders have access to enormous amounts of information that is compounding daily.

Leaders were asked to assess their organizations across eleven continuums of leadership contrasting how they think leadership has changed from five years ago, to how they believe it is currently, and what they think it will be five years from when they took the survey.

The data showed that leaders recognized that there was a need to embrace more collaborative and innovative approaches to solving problems, rather than pursuing more traditional approaches that tended to be more one-dimensional.

In other words, look at solving organizational problems and challenges with a willingness to look at it from a range of perspectives. Rather than selecting one approach over another, consider synthesizing an approach that merges and adapts possible solutions from different places.

The second trend was The Rise of Complex Challenges.

Ninety-three percent of the leaders surveyed believed that the challenges they faced were more complex than five years earlier, and traditional solutions less likely to work and existing processes not always able to be adapted. Furthermore, where organizations used to focus on managing risk, today they are focusing more on containing uncertainty. Wow! What a statement.

From seven different impacts identified, cross-functional challenges (52.2%), collaboration (49.6%), and speed of response (44.8%) were the top three. However, only 38% saw collaboration as enhancing co-worker relationships.

What can we learn from this? In essence, it means that workers are being asked to collaborate without having strong relationships or the ability to develop strong relationships in the workplace.

Unfortunately, with the speed of the challenges facing leaders and organizations, they often don’t have time to build those relationships.

What’s the bottom-line?

Leaders who want their organizations to be effective and competitive must introduce strategies that will help their leaders and managers collaborate more, enabling them to resolve complex challenges. These strategies need to focus on:

  • Giving leaders the skills they need to forge strong, healthy relationships and partnerships.
  • Developing new systems of reward and recognition that demonstrate the importance of developing a workplace culture that cultivates behaviors that fuel greater success.
  • Constantly evaluating and aligning strategy, people, and technology in such a way that is able to maintain pace with the changes taking place. There is no room for complacency.

 

[1] André Martin, “A New Map of Leadership: Global Trends Impacting Leaders and Leadership Development,” Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), http://www.ccl.org/leadership/community/mapWebinar.aspx (accessed April 16, 2011).

[2] Juan Enriques, As the Future Catches You: How Genomics and Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health, and Wealth (New York, NY: Crown Business, 2001). [Kindle Edition]

[3] Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (First Back Bay, 2002); Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (New York, NY: Little, Brown & Company, 2005).

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