Leaders, look beyond innovation

Running an organisation was never easy but in today’s hyperconnected world the challenges can be daunting. The high degree of complexity requires a radically different leadership approach, say strategy researchers Gokce Sargut and Rita Gunther McGrath. “Complex organisations are far more difficult to manage than merely complicated ones,” they argue. “It’s harder to predict what will happen, because complex systems interact in unexpected ways.” Change expert, Haydn Shaughnessy, says the pressure to innovate could obscure the far deeper mindset shifts required to lead effectively in a volatile environment. “Innovation is becoming a short-term fix,” Shaughnessy says. “What leaders need to do is create a context beyond innovation.” He defines the new skillset as “sapient leadership”: a mastery of convergence and transformation, and the ability to orchestrate in complex ecosystems and reframe the business context. Leaders must be “capable of introducing new matrix management techniques, recruiting employees who clearly bring diverse perspectives…and cultivating a culture that can deal with the unpredicted,” he says. Being able to connect with your people, by whatever means, is critical, adds Deloitte Australia CEO, Giam Swiegers. “Every executive wakes up in the morning and says, I have a good strategy – how do I get people to execute it?”, Swiegers says. “Seventy-five per cent of our staff are digital natives…This is how they talk to each other. The only way I’m going to get to them is to talk to them in their medium.” Deloitte Australia’s runaway success using Yammer as an internal social network has other organisations watching closely, albeit nervously. Take the plunge, Swiegers urges. “You will not be able to lead in the next few years if you’re not capable of engaging people in digital form. It’s scary but it’s exciting.”

 

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