“Growth is back on the agenda in 2020” was one of the most telling comments in the Mindshop Business Leader Report - The Authentic Leader after a period of increased pace of change and volatility. This was when the fieldwork was completed in late 2019. I think we can say, it’s not back on the agenda any more.
We make brief comments on how the outlook of “The 10 leadership attributes of the Authentic Leader”, may have changed, they were:
The question today is probably what are results? For many, this will be nothing more than survival and the luxury of planning for some more normal circumstances in 2021. Yet we have seen examples of businesses who put their survival plans in place quickly, pivot, and are already producing above budget results in response to the new normal. This is relatively rare, but it is not impossible.
In our mind, this will have gone to the top of the list. Resilient businesses will have resilient leaders. Resilient leaders will have identified their new objectives for 2020 very quickly and have a plan in place to ensure that they get to the end of the year. We know that what is interesting about these plans is that they will operate on no more than 30 day cycles and will be reviewed for opportunities to pivot weekly, or even more often.
Prof Sir Lawrence Freedman from King’s College London said “Strategy is revolution. Everything else is tactics.” And in Harvard Business review in 1996 Gary Hamel produced an article “Strategy as Revolution”. He saw revolutionary strategy as: inquisitive, expansive, prescient, inventing, inclusive and demanding. These characteristics are required now more than ever.
4. Coaching ability
Managing people has probably never been more redundant and coaching never more important. Dealing with anxieties about health, personal and job security, human contact and an avalanche of daily bad news stories is wearing people down. The authentic leader will be able to recognise this in each and every individual and help them focus their talents and abilities on things that matter now.
5. Business acumen
For all the soft skills and humanistic approaches required, the ability to manage cash, identify and realise opportunities, see and eliminate risks, and create value are skills that will be required every day.
At times like this, we need to go back to basics. We recently saw the former Australian Foreign Minister - Julie Bishop, talk about the daily discipline of ticking things off in order to feel like one had achieved something at the end of the day. She started with “get up, get out of bed”, “have breakfast” and how she bookended her day with 2 lots of 10,000 steps. I guess this meant that she knew she would have at least four ticks on her list by the end of the day and could only add more with little things that she did.
7. Communication and Networking
This has never been more important now that we are all relatively isolated with very little physical interaction. Zoom’s share price today is more than double what it was on December 31, 2019. We seem to be communicating and networking more even when we are seeing each other less. Apart from the obvious application of Zoom and Microsoft teams to business meetings there are probably millions of examples of micro support groups established on Facebook, House Party and a range of other apps.
In other words, getting things done. Many organisations are working with less people, the key to implementation is prioritisation, doing things that matter right now, then doing it again tomorrow.
9. Self-confidence and energy
In my neighbourhood, I have never seen as many families out walking together, nor as many happy dogs, as I have seen in the last month. Exercise is 1 of only 4 reasons we are supposed to leave our homes in Melbourne. There is no doubt that people working from home are seeing the benefits of short but active breaks to keep themselves energised.
This is possibly the hardest of the 10 authentic leader attributes to comment on. Our Prime Minister articulates the moral challenge succinctly as “Saving lives and saving livelihoods”. It’s a phrase that encapsulates the dichotomy that all leaders are facing. Many businesses have had to cut large numbers of jobs to save other jobs, many businesses have had to close their doors to protect the health of customers or of employees that they will inevitably need to let go. It’s an area where personal authenticity needs to be front of mind every single day.
Next time we will look at the 5 opportunities for higher leadership performance that The Authentic Leader identified and in coming months we look at each of these 10 leadership attributes in some more detail. In the meantime, you can download The Authentic Leader here and we welcome any comments based on your own experiences. Also, feel free to take advantage of our free diagnostics.