Why does Innovation start with the courage to lead?
“While the world is divided and in conflict and idiotic I think in many ways, it’s time to start a new conversation with people who have creative solutions for just about everything,” he said. Deepak Chopra
The current age calls for the transformation of the status quo, its calls for the new, for the different. In a world where everything is changing; Business Models are changing, Business Processes are changing, and the way Businesses give and receive Value is changing, this calls for strong leaders. Strong leaders who are not afraid to step into the unknown, the domain of innovation.
What does it mean to lead with courage in the Exponential Age?
Courageous leaders are vulnerable, vulnerability not only enables deeper stakeholder connections, more importantly leaders prepared to be vulnerable are not afraid to fail. It is this management of fear that enables them to step into the unknown, outside of their comfort zones and lead the way to innovation, the path of which may be paved with failure as that is how we learn.
We are wired though for safety and have an unconscious fear of stepping outside of our comfort zones, where innovation happens. We need strong leaders who enable and inspire as to step across our comfort zone thresholds. Leaders who make us feel a sense of safety and security in this new unknown space, leaders brave enough to go before us, lead the way and support us even if we fail.
The skills and tasks required of a manager and leader are different, they are different functions that seldom co-exist in one person. It is key to understand this as both are of value and a deficit of either is a danger to the success of an organisation. Managers are operational, they focus on the detail we require when implementing innovations. Leaders are strategic, they are the visionaries that create the visions of the future that inspire us to build that future they see. We have a shortage of leaders globally and most importantly we have a shortage of servant hearted transformational leaders. Transformational leaders are those that transform us when we interact with them, they grow us and access undiscovered potential. In a world where everything is being commoditized what stakeholders are calling for is experiences that transform, this is the new frontier of innovation.
Courageous leaders understand the responsibility of leading, it is not a glory position, you are there to ensure value to all stakeholders. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about others and your every action is focused on the value you bring. I read this insert from an article on Graca Machel recently and I thought her words summed up leadership so well. Well at least the kind of leadership lacking at present as we enter the Exponential Age. Graca on Madiba after 27 years in prison, “He knew it was no longer about him, it was about the South African people. For that, he was prepared to sacrifice everything. He was the face and he was the voice; there was no way he could turn back. So, courage is about what you believe in. If you believe very strongly in something, it is not about you, it is bigger, so much bigger.” https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/graca-machel-and-fire-your-belly
How does one lead with courage in the Exponential Age?
Leading with courage means being comfortable being vulnerable and this starts with leaders being secure in who they are, they are self-inclusive which requires an evolved level of emotional intelligence. These leaders are able to step into their authentic power and inspire a new way of thinking and operating. Leading the way in a brave new richer world of creative thinking and creative solutions. A world that calls for an exchange of value between all stakeholders, a new world in which rank does not exist. Those that understand this will bravely lead the way and those that don’t will slowly fall away and become obsolete as they will lack the Human Intelligence required to triumph in an automated world, the new capitalism requires Human Intelligence to profit.
Great leaders are great communicators. “Great communicators don’t try to be someone they’re not just because they’ve stepped behind a podium. Great leaders know that when they stay true to who they are, people gravitate to their message. When great leaders make a mistake, they admit it right away. They model accountability for their words and actions, even when they could have easily “gotten away” with the mistake. And they do it matter-of-factly, without drama or false humility.” https://www.success.com/10-communication-secrets-of-great-leaders/?mpweb=574-7750694-742189912
Leading with courage is to step up, to say and do the right thing at the right time even if you are the only one. It means having the courage to believe in your convictions, to step into the unknown and lead the way even if you feel fear inside. It means managing people differently and having the courage to change everything if required. It may mean standing up to shareholders and going for long term return away from the short term. It’s a brave new world which I find so exciting as I know only authentic leaders operating in their authentic power will survive and thrive. Its wonderfully positive for those who step up.
Graca Machel on the Graça Machel Trust and The Elders: “When you have powerful voices with moral authority, if they put issues in the right place at the right time, then the world will listen – and do something about it. It’s not only about doing good; it’s about transforming attitudes and behaviours. When I believe a cause has the ability to transform institutions, systems and behaviours, I engage.” https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/graca-machel-and-fire-your-belly
What if insufficient Transformational Leaders don’t step up and lead in the Exponential Age?
If insufficient transformational leaders don’t step up the ecosystem will break, of that I am certain, its just a matter of time. “If your employees are faithful then your customers are happy. If your customers are happy then your investors are happy. So, it’s a full loop, of all the people in an ecosystem of business, the employees are most important.” Deepak Chopra
This article is worth the time in reading as courage begins with vulnerability. The Best Leaders Are Vulnerable: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2013/07/18/the-best-leaders-are-vulnerable/#340a3b583c1d
In next weeks blog we will continue the theme of transformation though focus on experiences that transform.