The challenge facing tomorrow’s leaders is learning how to rise above being just managers.
If you doubt that leadership is one of the most difficult and challenging roles a person can attempt, take a look at these facts:
• Ford Motor Co. spends as much on health care each year as it does on steel.
• In 1992, VISA charges equaled $1 billion per day from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
• As of January 1, 1993, businesses owned by women will employ more people than all of the Fortune 500 Companies combined.
As America and the world change, leaders and leadership must change not to only keep pace with the changes, but to create systems that thrive on change. As such, the leader of the future has three significant challenges to meet.
The first of those challenges is to help people adapt to change. We live in a world where 98 percent of all of the significant change in history has taken place in the past lifetime. This means we have had more change in the past 30 years than in the past 30,000 years. However, many people are afraid of the constant parade of change, and want things to slow down – to be more like they used to be. The leader’s role is to show people how to adapt to change and how to thrive on the opportunities presented by change.
The second challenge is to become more oriented toward science and technology. We are in the era of “biotechnology”. Everyday, new biotechnologies and methods of genetic engineering are developed. While it may seem like a simplified example, corn is the most biologically modified product on the face of the earth. Likewise, animals are being genetically altered to produce more meat, more milk, and more wool. By the year 2000, researchers suggest that one-fifth of all food produced on earth will be produced with biotechnology. Science and technology affect our lives in every conceivable manner.
It is the leader’s role to understand and utilize these changes for the long-term growth and profit of his/her business, as well as the long-term development of the human resources within that business.
Finally, the leader must adjust to his/her new constituencies. The new world is multi-national, multi-racial, and multi-cultural. It is the leader’s role to manage this diversity in a manner that helps the organization thrive. The leader must understand what motivates different people. He/she must understand the professional aspirations of each inddividual, regardless of gender, culture, or race. The leader must rise to a level above management, and into leadership. As the old saying goes, “We manage things – we lead people.” Leaders are there to move people to higher levels of accomplishment – to help them reach their potentials, not just their goals.
Leadership survives as a professiion because it allows organizations and people to work together to achieve common goals. Leadership is the link between the processes and the peope, between the technologies and the terrors of change. Leadership keeps new paradigms from overwhelming us into immobility and directs us to proactive and profitable performance.
Another new way to view “UncommonSense Leadership” is experessed in this Faranda maxim: “A good leader knows how to get out of trouble. A great leader knows how to avoid it.”
Proactive leadership is always better than crisis leadership. Proactive leadership makes things happen, or stops them from happening. Proactive leadership works from a position of strength – not from weakness.
In an era where the knowledge base of the world doubles every 19 months, where both Sony and IBM introduce five new products every week, and organizations like SNN re-invent themselves every hour, the leader’s rold is both difficult and challenging. Howeveer, it is also more rewarding, both financially and psychologically, than in any time in history.
As the world evolves, the most successful leaders will be those who are able to thrive on change. The successful leaders will be proactive in new technologes, and will be committed to using workforce diversity as a positive tool of productivity to achieve success.