Leadership – a crisis of confidence?

One of my clients was tired last week. When I asked him why he said:

“Work used to feel like intense sprints punctuated by rest periods. Now it feels like a marathon. At sprint pace. And by the way – I think they moved the finish line. In fact, I fear there may not be one any more.”

It’s no secret that leadership has become more challenging. Aaron Dignan frames the new demands only too well –

We need to go faster. Be more innovative. Make better decisions. Waste less time. Break down silos. Work horizontally. Simplify our structure. Focus on the customer. Increase information flow. Scale without losing what makes us great. Change our business model. Attract different talent. Retain the great talent we have.

Phew. Leadership has become relentless.

A lot of leaders that I speak to tell me that their job is starting to lose the fun factor. They’re not as confident in their decision making and they’re struggling to get rapid traction from an ever-increasing number of stakeholders (who are probably feeling just like them, which doesn’t help) – which is slowing them down at the very time that they need to speed up.

In short, they are questioning their impact, their influence and their ability to break through this wall and find a new rhythm.

As a former executive with Australia Post, I’ve got five years head start on most leaders when it comes to leading large, mature teams and significant talent programs through an era significant disruption.

Since then I’ve been researching and reflecting the key attributes that made some of us thrive and others struggle during this transition – and I call out three key factors that leaders need to work on:

Resilience:

The absolute silver bullet of reconditioning your inner athlete for this new game. Resilience is one of the most complex topics on the market today. If you google it, you’ll see what I mean. I believe resilience is deeply personal; and deeply nuanced. There is no one lever that will work for everyone because everyone is different. Your personal formula for resilience will be made up of a combination of things – social, strategic and physical/physiological – and that formula will change subtly from situation to situation.

Collaboration:

Collaboration has taken on a deeper note. Why? Because we’re working cross-functionally? Not really. Because the journey is becoming less predictable – the surface-level agreements are harder to stand by when priorities change at an alarming pace. To stay the distance requires more intrinsic motivation, and leaders need to unlock this in order to run together.

Confidence in chaos:

Ok, chaos is a strong word, but work does feel like it at times. It’s hard to cut through it, and it’s hard to make decisions in this volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous state. We want to get back in control, and that means having a new way to compartmentalise what is happening to us so we can carve through and crack on.

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Rebecca Houghton works with leaders entering this phase of durable disruption to find their leadership edge again.

The rules of leadership have definitely changed!

DM to book a call to learn more.

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