The year is marching on. 66% of this year is gone.
I hope you have made some significant progress on
your goals for 2012. This month I want to share some
thoughts on Leadership. We are all called upon to
be leaders. Learning and practicing what it takes
to be a good leader is a process, not a project. Here
are some thoughts on Leadership.
A Leadership Map for the Future
Predictions for the future can be stimulating and challenging,
especially when attempting to make strategic planning decisions.
Our rapidly changing global environment presents problems
never before encountered. No one knows what will be required
of leaders in the future, but some speculation is worthy of
Experts have not always made accurate predictions:
New industries are already well on their way to becoming established
products and services for the future: micro-robotics, machine
translations in real time, urban traffic systems, bio-mimetic
materials, machines capable of emotions, inference and learning,
and bioremediation for cleaning up the earth's environment
are a few.
- In 1899 the U.S. Commissioner of patents, Charles Duell,
declared, "Everything that can be invented has been
- In 1905, President Grover Cleveland proclaimed, "Sensible
and responsible women do not want to vote.
Each of these opportunities is by nature global. No single
nation or region is likely to control all the technologies
and skills required to turn them into reality. Any firm wishing
to become a leader will have to collaborate with and learn
from leading-edge customers, technology providers, and suppliers
wherever they are located. (Hamel & Prahalad, Competing
for the Future, 1994).
How Will Future Leaders Be Successful?
No matter what the product or services, the question remains:
how will business be conducted in the future and what will
be required for leaders to be effective?
To be sure, some leadership qualities will always be important:
intelligence (emotional as well as cognitive), confidence,
ability to articulate and inspire a vision, ability to motivate,
unfaltering optimism, perseverance, resilience, and strategic
Recent company bankruptcies have also shown that leaders need
to have moral and ethical values to make difficult and even
unpopular decisions that are beneficial to stakeholders in
the long term.
The Impact of Technology
Technological advances are speeding up communications and
enabling rapid input from customers, suppliers, employees
and all stakeholders, and are also creating new requirements
While technological advances can save considerable time and
money, here are some of the challenges that they create:
Communicating across multi-cultural and multi-generational
communities is becoming more important as a competency for
leaders in the future, and a lot more of managing and leading
will have to be done virtually.
- Learning new technical skills:
Executives must continually update their skills and
remain open to learning how to work with new hardware
and software systems. It is no longer sufficient to
depend on technical specialists. What were considered
basic computer skills in the past are no longer good
enough. Leaders must know how to use new devices and
programs to their best advantage.
- Decision-making on technical issues:
Leaders must be able to make decisions about which technological
advances have importance for their organizations, which
purchases to make and where to allocate resources. Without
this capacity to judge the value of technical advances,
they risk spending money in the wrong places.
- Managing time and information:
All persons, but especially leaders, will have to manage
their time and information flow more efficiently, in
order to be able to respond effectively and in a timely
manner to new input from stakeholders. It does no good
to have input available if the organization cannot respond
in a timely fashion. Time is not the issue here, knowledge
systems and management are.
- Leading virtually: Greater capacity
for instant communications opens possibilities for working
with suppliers in foreign countries at lower prices
than can be achieved domestically. Leaders must be able
to support and coordinate virtual work teams. Working
virtually is not the same as managing in person, and
requires new skills. Expect to see increased use of
virtual conferencing technologies.
- Leading diverse cultures: Working
with an expanded global environment brings challenges
of communicating effectively with different cultures.
Even more so than in the present, leaders will be required
to have unique abilities to inspire and motivate others
with different perspectives, values, cultures, and religions,
as well as multi-generational age groups.
- People development: Leaders
will have to be adept at bringing out the best in their
people, who have more decision-making responsibility
with customers and stakeholders in a rapid response
environment. Leaders will be required to learn and use
effective coaching skills.
Only a few of the prominent business schools have begun to
teach new and future leaders how to manage diverse cultures
in a virtual environment. Yet this is a clearly emerging competency.
Even smaller companies will become global and be required
to work in a global environment. Expect to see an increase
in diversity issues arise in leadership development programs.
The use of executive coaches is expected to gain priority
as a primary tool for developing diversity competencies for
Effective leaders galvanize attention and get people moving
forward together. However, organizations are increasingly
complex. The past is no longer a map for how to do business
in the future.
Leaders must understand the different legal, political, religious,
gender and generational perspectives in different regions
and countries. How do their products and services impact the
people in the areas where they are doing business? Are employees
and executives able to respond to differing needs in a flexible
and rapid manner? Can leaders manage the tension that is inherent
in multi-cultural environments?
For many organizations that are having difficulty managing
cultural diversity within their own domestic offices, it will
be even more challenging to meet global demands.
Alliances, partnerships, mergers, and outsourcing have all
changed the way we do business. Leaders who are adept at building
relationships and leveraging partnerships will have a competitive
advantage for the future. The ability to guide diverse groups
to consensus by focusing on common purpose and core values
will be a highly prized competency.
It is important to remember that leadership is an emergent
quality that is produced by the acts of many people in complex
systems. The corporate culture must recognize and accept the
need for leaders to get help. Leaders cannot walk on water
or leap tall buildings, no matter how strong they appear to
be. Executive coaches are necessary for the continuing development
of leadership strengths, and will be even more so in the future.
If you would like to discuss leadership
in more detail or take a Leadership Assessment Survey, please
give me a call or drop me an e-mail. Also please feel free
to forward this newsletter to friends or colleagues who may
have an interest in Leadership.
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit
boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest
Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive
Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments have included
coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various
Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning
Pinney & Associates
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