From a relatively calm past business organizations have moved to a world of enduring whitewater where they have to change to survive and where they have to develop to prosper.
Oddly enough, the very act of change increases the risk that they won’t live to tell the tale.
That’s why the way modern business leaders think about leading, managing and positioning their organization must be different. The strategies that worked 10 years ago are no longer valid. Managers who fail to adapt risk losing their job, or worse yet losing the company as well.
Leadership and Organization Structure Today
In a world of mergers, downsizing, reorganization, a need for more diversity in the workplace, organization structures that were once suitable for calmer waters are now dangerous to their constituents.
Once, only a few knew the direction and everyone else just “pulled their weight” with the cadence that was called. In those periods of relative calm, that was all that was necessary to be successful. Today those boats would be swamped and wrecked in the waters they are being asked to navigate.
Now the boat is built to take the blows of continuous change. All in the boat are looking forward, assessing the immediate situation, and making their contribution as they see fit. They all share a common sense of direction. They all know where they want to go and they have the ability to influence their progress.
Successful organizations that were once centralized and hierarchical in structure are now more networked in their design. In times of rapid change organizations must stay focused and respond quickly to their constituents’ needs.
Hierarchical and centralized power structures are not able to respond quickly enough. The teamwork and collaboration of networked organizations are now necessary to respond to the quickly changing demands of the business environment.
Why Modern Business Leadership Must be Different
Today there must be people who lead with clarity of judgment that is unimpeded by attachments to out of date models or a personal identity with creating an image for themselves. These leaders must be able to regulate the anguish in the workplace and maintain disciplined action. The world has changed and now leadership within it must also change.
This is an age of teamwork and no leader can lead without followers. Leadership is also more situational now. The buck no longer “stops here” but rather drifts among the members of an organization, stopping from time to time with the member in the best position to make a contribution at that moment.
A collaborative leader is on the rise because today’s leader needs to be found in the middle of a “network of inclusion” and ready to deal with all the members of the organization. Today’s leader also must be flexible and open to the needs of their constituents. As an accomplished communicator they must be able to voice the concerns of their followers. They must know their core values and be able to express them so they can relate well with all groups within the constituency. They must adapt well to change, and be prepared for times of uncertainty.