The news of Barclays Bank’s exit from major African markets came as news to some, to some it was a question of when. Some of us knew it as a premier brand only comparable to its HD logos on the Premier League they sponsor. One may analogize that pretty much like the sport they sponsor, which am told can get messy, it has gotten messy for Barclays too. I am no expert on football but I recall trying to watch these Barclays branded matches in an overcrowded room hoping to learn a thing or two about football: well, I learnt that once you miss a front seat you have to stand, sometime on your toes (like one on imaginary heels) and also depend on the sentimental shouts of those with a better view.
Nokia, Kodak and to some extent Barclays Africa can tell you that it is not funny when your are on your toes, trying to catch a glimpse of the game, competitors break into jubilation and you cannot tell who scored who or what. Its a confusion comparable to an undergrad’s first class in calculus. The noise of future corporate, political or social game is rising, the rooms are more crowded and being in the game is tougher. This is where leadership comes in, remember that when things go south we train our lenses on leaders; we did not care as much that Symbian OS was not as good as Android in the Nokia case, it is what the leadership missed.
So what how do you prepare for future leadership in such a situation? Do you get caught up in awe of the few exceptional ones and hope to run into future Zuckerbergs or Jeff Bezos who we will impulse buy before our competitors? I think it is only through committing to a process of answering key questions defining future leaders. Bellow are 4 important ones that will show up in different forms.
What has shifted?
Nick Petrie refers to as shifting from horizontal leadership development, which is expert centered, to vertical leadership development. This shift will focus on individual within an organization and tap into the cultural, ethical, belief and personality aspects that build uniqueness. This is because future leadership will no longer depend on transfer of skills and knowledge from an expert to the lower ends; it must be motivated by inner values other than profit gains. Consequently future leaders must define profits and success at a personal level.
Where is the Center (is it needed)?
Future leadership will shift the responsibility of development, change and task completion to an individual at different points of the organization; leadership will have to depart from a power-centered organizational technologist (transactional leadership) to a community-based organizational philosopher (transformational leadership) who elevates organizational motivation beyond self interests and completion of task. Mc. Evoy in his study on future leadership intimated that this leadership will offer sustainable results by making performance and standards personal; for instance an internal control system may prevent theft, but a value-based institution that espouses personal values of integrity offers sustainable checks on theft.
Vertical or Horizontal?
Future leadership will be collective not individual; it will not be a personal role anymore but a systems leadership based on interdependent professionalism. It will extend beyond the institutional scope towards maximization of influence across the entire value system. This will require vertical approach in decision making and policy, as well as horizontal approach in exerting positive influence. Thus, future leadership will be bent on an inclusive trend where leadership is about systems thinking that enables superior quality of decisions; this will result from mediation of skills that enhance sharing of knowledge and increases ability to identify paradigms that drive change.
How do we decide?
Future leadership will focus on innovation through combination of diverse ideas in creative ways. Technology, research and development and adopting change will feature conspicuously. To arrive at appropriate decision in a complex environment, leaders will have to come up with various methods such as simulation of work contexts to assess how different components affect other factors. However, in the innovation aspect, a leader will have to be rich in the ability to create a meaningful context from the existing situations of sustainability. Purt Jenny noted on The Guardian that innovation in future leadership will have to depart from the traditional and offer social responsive, context appropriate, sustainable and meaningful future possibilities.
Refuse to be substituted before your time. To lead the future and play to the end requires an ability to flip dilemmas into opportunities; meeting volatility with vision; complexity with certainty of direction; uncertainty with understanding and ambiguity with agility.