disruption 5
Lim Yau Boon

Lim Yau Boon

The three leadership ‘shifts’ to survive disruption

As organisations continue to experience constant unpredictability, leaders are forced to continually review their operations and pivot their business’ to survive. This is no easy feat. To become a future-ready leader and for a company to survive in this age of disruption, it requires a fundamental shift in mindset, adoption of a new paradigm and the application a different organisational business model.

 “What got you here, won’t get you there”. Marshall Goldsmith.

To thrive going forward requires a significant change in strategy and business model because what worked in the past is no longer relevant. Leaders need to change perceptions and learnings; adopt an approach that nurtures and understands the outer “edges” of their business and involves comprehension of the Laws of Nature! Let me explain in more detail.

We can all learn from the great leader Gandhi, who said: “There goes my people, I must follow them, for I am their leader”.

He was a force without being a force. He empowered people and gave them collective goals to create movement. As leaders, we need to look at our inner self before instigating organisational change. We need to embrace humility, empathy, candour, trust, vulnerability and decisiveness as the foundation of leadership. These are the important six tenets to set our inner self right before we try to change our mindset or leadership approach. With that, it will also enable us to unlearn what we already know and re-learn what we thought we knew.

Once we have the right leadership mindset, we can then shift the organisational paradigm. There are many ways leaders can lead their people – from the top down; by guiding them and leading the way from the front; supporting and pushing them from the back; or taking a central approach and disseminating strategy outwards around them. However, I would like to introduce a new concept of circumferential leadership.

Circumferential leadership is leading from the edge. This involves knowing and interacting with those at the edge of your organisation – what they do, why they do it and how they do it. With a better sense of all your external touchpoints, such customers, suppliers and your ecosystem, including the environment they are operating in and the challenges in the interfacing, you will be able to better understand the issues and roadblocks halting company growth.

It is only the most adaptable and energy efficient that will survive through a prolonged period of difficulties, challenges, and ambiguities. For example, the T-Rex dinosaur, although a strong and powerful animal, was inefficient, required a lot of energy to survive and could not adapt. Therefore, it became extinct.  Conversely, birds have continuously diversified and are not only light but they have flight, enabling them to be more mobile. By crossing seas and oceans, they have also changed to adapt to their presence across the earth.

Industry Apex Predators of the business world, like the T-Rex, will be at a perpetual risk of facing extinction. Only the most adaptable will emerge stronger and persist. Like in nature, new disruptions occur in complex businesses environments and change the future course. Only organisations which have an energy-efficient, adaptable, diversified and emergent structure will survive, as they respond well to changing situations and market demands, diversifying as needed.

So as leaders, you must be ready for change. And because we frequently need to keep changing and reinventing to survive, we can only achieve this if we embrace a fundamental shift in being, adopting circumferential leadership and applying the laws of nature to the organisational model!

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