WE live in a globe that is uncertain, fast, culturally diverse and volatile. As a result, that seeks competitive, capable and versatile corporate leaders to guide the ship and stay afloat. The late leadership guru, Warren Bennis (1989: 112-113) in his book Why Leaders Can’t Lead said: “The fact is that there are so many predicaments, too many grievances, too many ironies, polarities, dichotomies, dualities, ambivalences, paradoxes, contradictions, confusions, complexities, and messes…”. This requires intuitive leadership. As a leader, to find yourself on the forefront of change and success, there are things that you should embrace. This applies to both corporate leaders and entrepreneurs.

Be more

As business grows in global markets, we have seen the emergence of unlikely leaders. In the past, they might have been called psychopaths, but now they lead in their own right even if they have not been designated. You talk of Mark Zuckerberg of the Facebook, Bill Gates of the Microsoft and Richard Branson of the Virgin Airlines. They don’t stand as ordinary managers, but news making leaders. Again, Warren Bennis (1989: 45) in his book, On Becoming a Leader, gave significant juxtapositions between leadership and management.

“The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager is a copy; the leader is original. The manager maintains; the leader develops. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager has his eyes always on the bottom line; the leader has his eyes on the horizon. The manager initiates; the leader originates. The manager accepts the status quo, the leader challenges it. The manager does things right; the leaders does the right thing”

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Stay competitive

Being pro-active is one characteristic that keeps the leader upbeat and leading the game. The leader evades being irrelevant by growing himself, especially through learning, listening, looking and linking. As a leader, you should bring remedies to new plights! Be innovative and creative to keep yourself competitive! Arie de Geus said, “The ability to learn faster than your competitors, maybe the sustainable competitive advantage.”

Eye the next bounce of the ball

The information and technology industry will prove to us that what was useful yesterday, could wake up obsolete today. As leaders, we should be amenable to change and have an eye for change. To every traditional leader, the frank truth is that change is inevitable. An all-time classic quote by Eric Hoffer (1898-1983) says, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”.

Results speak

Your results as a leader can never lie. Results don’t come coincidentally but by an action. To start off a great destiny, plan your work, and then work your plan. To every effect there is a cause, whether good or bad. The most failures or problems we see today are in most cases caused by a human phenomenon that is what we normally call a “leadership crisis”. For me, that’s the worst disease that could ever infect any company, church or country.

Embrace integrative complexity

The law of integrative complexity says that an individual (despite the background and the circumstantial surroundings), that “integrates” and “uses” the greatest amount of information in any field soon rises to the top of that field. According to Brian Tracy in his book 21 Success Secrets Of Self-Made Millionaires, when you read for an hour every day, it translates to a book a week. One book a week translates to 50 plus books a year.

Fifty books a year adds up to 500 books in 10 years. This makes you gain a competitive edge over all others who are living by. As a leader you become a pro in any field of your choice. Most people hardly finish reading just a single book in a year.

Embrace learning agility

The times are turbulent, treacherous, tough, trying and taunting to those who don’t want to adopt and adapt. The leader has to be willing to quickly adopt new tools, techniques that are relevant in solving complex problems, in confronting new hurdles and facing new challenges of our times. The leader has to constantly and continually be developing, growing and using emerging tools.

Cashman (2013) in the Forbes says that “learning agility is a key to unlocking our adaptation proficiency. It is “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.”

Research shows that learning agility is a reliable indicator of leadership potential because learning agile people “excel at absorbing information from their experiences and then extrapolating from those to navigate unfamiliar situations.” Learning agility is a complex set of skills that allows us to learn something in one situation and apply it in a completely different situation. It is about gathering patterns from one context and then using those patterns in a completely new context. In short, learning agility is the ability to learn, adapt, and apply ourselves in constantly morphing conditions.”

Tim Casasola, (2016) in an article The Most Important Trait Leaders Need For the 21st Century, says that to have the learning agility, you are:

“Innovative: You aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Performing: You stay calm in the face of difficulty. Reflective: You take time to reflect on your experiences. Risking: You intentionally put yourself in challenging situations. Open-minded: You resist the temptation to be defensive and listen.”

Read seasons

Every leader should learn trends in seasons. Some corporates thought business would always be a boom for them, but forgetting that new season are coming; seasons that will change the consumption taste of the consumers. Great leaders don’t only wear jerseys in winter and stay indoors, but they see an opportunity to go skating and snowboarding and receive their rewards thereby. Producing a product whose season has passed is not only bad, but it’s a shear waste of resources and time. In seasons of harsh and hard times leaders derive lessons. In every obstruction, they choose to see and instruction. In times of plenty, they stock-up for the dry times ahead. They are enormously ready to embrace any situation with a positive attitude.

Pass on that baton

A transformed leader is not afraid to be succeeded. Leadership success is possible when we appreciate that the word “success” is inseparable from the word “successor”. Read that again! A leadership and management guru, Peter Drucker said, “There is no success without a successor”. But why are some leaders afraid to surrender the reigns to the other people? They think they are irreplaceable. They also suffer from insecurity, ego, and they think they are the only ones able to do it best. Allow others to lead in your place and that happens when you have empowered others. Empowerment does not end with passing skills and mindsets.

Parting Point: Linda Proctor in her Earn it & Enjoy It says: “Look around. The world is definitely changing, and it will never be the same again. Power is slipping away, disappearing from some circles, and reappearing in others.
Countries, companies and individuals who have held the power in the past are quickly losing it, if in fact they have not already watched it melt in their hands. Their often smug, sometimes selfish, domineering, complacent attitude has cost them dearly. They are confused and this confusion is frequently fuelled by their own ignorance.
When that happens it ultimately leads to anger or resentment – sometimes both. This negative energy is then quite frequently misdirected, possibly at their loved ones, which then causes an entire new set of problems.”

Jonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and certified leadership/business trainer. He is the author of Inspiration for Success and Success Within Reach.