Five thoughts for leaders to consider for 2016

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As we approach the Christmas and New Year celebrations, it’s worth reflecting for a moment on the year we are leaving behind. In 2015, from a leadership perspective, our team most often discussed with our various clients and prospects topics relating to: disruption, innovation, adaptability, collaboration, agility and speed, culture, distributed and adaptive leadership .

So are we in for more of the same in 2016?

We believe in 2016 a great deal of attention will be focused on geopolitics:

  • Europe will be dealing with 1 million plus refugees with predictions that a further million refugees could enter Europe during 2016,
  • The Middle East will remain a powder keg of uncertainty for a variety of reasons that will continue to be reported on almost daily,
  • A great deal of China’s attention will be devoted to addressing the widespread corruption that is permeating politics and business,
  • The USA will go to the polls to elect a new President. Based on current polls it is likely to be President Clinton or President Trump. There is a lot for business leaders to contemplate should either win,
  • Australia is scheduled to go to the polls around the same time in November unless the current government decides to seek a new mandate before the May budget.

Despite these geopolitical situations business leaders are more optimistic about what 2016 holds, though they are less optimistic in China and Latin America despite the Olympics in Brazil.

So what will leaders need to focus on in 2016 while these aspects play out in order to continue to build success irrespective of the size and nature of their businesses?

Leadership ability and focus. If you are a micro manager or are heavily reliant on power and control your time as a leader will run out in 2016. Leaders will need to be more consultative, empowering, trusting, and able to engage and mobilise many to think differently and adapt quickly. Leaders will need to be capable of stimulating not stifling debate, think on their feet and be able to balance risk against the opportunity and take decisive action.

Culture will be key. It is your last source of competitive advantage. Robert Richman, author of The Culture Blueprint and former Culture Strategist for Zappos sums it up best “You can’t demand culture. The best organizations build culture from within. Great culture is built by engaging your team through thoughtful discussions, not by issuing edicts.”

A well-designed constructive culture produces engaged, respected, well-resourced and trained people who drive the productivity required to meet and exceed customer expectations. Well designed and implemented systems will only give you efficiency.

Encourage Diversity – in every sense. There will be a greater need for valuing diversity of ideas, opinions and views; greater acceptance of people of all faiths and backgrounds; age, particularly how to engage with the millennial generations which are greater in numbers than Generation X. Baby Boomer participation has been falling since 2010; leaders need to ensure plans are in place for the accelerating departure of this generation as there will be a talent gap.   Last and certainly not least gender diversity. This remains a frustration as there has only been a limited increase in the number of women in senior executive leadership roles despite overwhelming empirical research that extols the value and benefits that accrue by having a gender balance at the senior levels of any organisation.

Collaboration and Consensus. The move continues towards a sharing and connecting economy where value is created by building relationships which means connecting buyers to sellers or users to content – this trend will only increase in 2016. As a leader if you don’t buy this then consider these points made by Ian Altman writing in Forbes Magazine:

  • Uber is the largest “taxi” company – yet they own no vehicles and excel at connecting riders with drivers.
  • AirBnB is the largest provider of accommodations – yet they own no real estate.
  • Facebook is the largest media company – yet they create no content.
  • Crowdfunding businesses like Kickstarter and IndiGoGo are expected to surpass venture capital for funding in 2016 – yet they have no funds to invest.

Ability to lead and manage change. Change has always been a part business, it’s just happening faster. To paraphrase McKinsey Consulting “…compared with the Industrial Revolution of the mid-18th century, change is occurring at 10 times the scale, 300 times faster with 3,000 times the impact.” Ability to lead and manage change will remain an essential skill in 2016.

Over the Christmas and New Year break I plan to re-read Charles Handy’s latest offering The Second Curve as it offers many other longer term insights that are valuable to leaders now and in the future. To the people who have read my various blogs throughout the year and to those who have provided feedback and comment, thank you.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and continuing success and prosperity in 2016.


Vivente Australiaenables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes