Leadership in 2015..How will you measure up?

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What if you could take a quick trip into 2015—to the most prestigious gathering of business leaders in your field? What qualities and skills would you notice in the executives who have made the shift from old models and strategies pre-GFC and experienced the most success?

In 2015, strong leaders will still be meeting the demand for results. Results remain a ticket to the game and will increasingly be a delicate balancing act for leaders and their respective boards – balancing the current emphasis (even over-emphasis) on short term results versus the need to be accountable and therefore measured on the long term effectiveness and sustainability of their organisation.

In 2015, leaders still need a compelling vision. The difference is it won’t be solely the leader’s vision. It will be too much to expect a single leader to set direction and inspire others to follow given the continuously dynamic nature of markets and shareholder, customer, employee and community expectations. Leaders will need to see what others see and to see what others don’t. But the organisation’s vision will be developed by leaders working with information and insights from their people. A shared vision will bubble up from within, instead of being pushed down from above.

In a similar way, effective leaders of 2015 will understand that strategy can no longer be linear or imposed solely from above. Instead, they prepare flexible options to meet the inevitable uncertainty. Gone are the days when an organisation’s leaders had a planning meeting and put a plan in place—converting strategies to tactics and tactics to activities—and then turning those activities over to staff for execution.

Instead, organisations will form their strategy around options. “If this happens, what will we do? If that happens, what are the options and what will we do?” This kind of planning again depends on information and insight from the organisation’s people. To recognise emerging needs and effectively pick strategic shifts, leaders must be able to work with them and count on their support.

Leaders will need to direct their leadership focus from superior strategy to superior execution which happens through people; hence the need for sharpening their skills in strong communication, empathy, collaboration and capacity to build trust in and outside of their organisations. These ‘softer’ skills are the skills employers are now demanding in Harvard University MBA graduates (McKinsey Quarterly, April 2010) and are recognised in short supply in managers who [employers] want to rise to the most important and significant ranks in their companies.

Leaders in 2015 will be working in diverse markets with a diversity of talent across these markets, not just those talented people within their own countries. They will have to figure out how to build and retain trust with demanding stakeholders – employees, customers and communities.

Leaders will be meeting the demands of three generations in their workforce.

How well prepared are you and your organisation to meet these leadership challenges that lie ahead for us all?

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