The New World and its Leadership Challenge

The greatest challenges facing organisations used to be growth and maximisation of profit but due to the rise of technology, scarcity of environmental resources and disruptive business models, the new challenge is how to transform and adapt to thrive in an ever-changing landscape.

Not only are hierarchical structures outdated but they are ineffective, costly and time consuming. Time is the one resource that organisations wishing to thrive in this New World cannot afford to waste.  Welcome to the New World of Today.

We know we need leadership deep in the business to respond quickly to emerging possibilities and shape the future. We know we cannot do it from the centre.”  Head of Learning for a FTSE 100 business

So how do organisations meet the challenge of enabling entire teams to provide the leadership needed for the complexity of business today, as opposed to looking to overburdened individuals? How can this capacity be developed?

Before we can find the solution to such a challenge, it is important to understand that not only are the models underpinning 20th century leadership now radically outdated, so too is the thinking behind them. Traditional team development focused on performance objectives and the dynamics within the team but if organisations are to transform and adapt to life in this New World, the wider systemic context can no longer be ignored.

This means taking an outside-in, future-back perspective. Instead of planning a strategy that takes the team and organisation where it envisions going, it means envisioning the future first, and recognizing that the path to success requires a big shift in ‘how it has always been done’. Instead of just addressing internal team dynamics, it’s about a co-creative process involving the wider system, asking questions such as ‘who are our stakeholders?’ and ‘what do they require from us?’ And no, we’re not just considering shareholders anymore, we’re talking stakeholders in every context relevant to the organisation.

Most of us understand that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result – and the opposing challenge that habits are exactly that; habitual and ingrained. With the speed of change today, the only thing we should effectively make habitual is the agility to transform at speed. We can draw from experience but continuing to think and act from our comfort zones, relying on what always worked before, is a recipe for imminent disaster.  

For the journey to be successful, teams today need to consider how they need to be different. Ways of connecting and interacting require personal and collective change, pragmatically, dynamically, on-the-job, in-the-moment. No longer a succession of change management ‘approaches’ which are not adopted and leave participants feeling change-fatigued. The New World requires and will force new ways of being, demanding new behaviours, skill sets and connections.

This means that how we develop our leaders and teams has to change. In the field of coaching and leadership development too, yesterday’s approaches are no longer effective. As a forerunner in this change, Metaco has been training experienced coaches in the principles of Systemic Team Coaching® (1) , equipping them with the new skills to successfully assist teams and organisations thrive in today’s world.

However, this in itself is not enough. Increasingly we see the need to develop leaders to do this work themselves, developing and empowering organisational leadership and connected high-performing teams across the organisation.

Applying the 5 Disciplines framework of Systemic Team Coaching® helps us understand where teams might need focused development.

Often simple questions generate the best insights:
● Commissioning: Who does the team serve? What is it there to do? How does this align with the wider organisation purpose and objectives?
● Clarifying: What is the team’s collective endeavour and core objectives? Are team members clear about roles and processes?
● Co-Creating: How is your team working together and partnering internally and managing its team dynamics?
● Connecting: How is your team partnering with the various parts of the wider system and your key stakeholders?
● Core-Learning: How is your team learning from its experience and developing as a team?

Our mission is to harness the Collective Power of Leadership Teams to Deliver on Tomorrow’s Strategy.

On 01 February, Metaco will launch three brand new programmes designed specifically for leaders, to address three distinct levels of leadership (Board, Executive Management and Senior Leadership). Metaco’s Systemic Team Leadership programmes will equip leaders at their appropriate level to transform, not only their own teams, but the wider organisational system.

Here’s to the New World and co-creating success in a future we cannot yet see!

(1) Hawkins P: Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership: Kogan Page 2017. Peter Hawkins is Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School in the United Kingdom and a member of Metaco’s Advisory Board.