Home Entrepreneur Why 'messy' leaders is the future

Why ‘messy’ leaders is the future


April 7, 2021

8 minutes of reading

Comments expressed by Businessmen the contributors are their own.


For 2020 is a troubling year. Global health has brought about quick (and sometimes painful) changes to the way we work and live. This means leaders must help employees manage historically high stress levels and respond to challenges faster than they ever thought possible.

To better understand what an organization needs from their leaders, my company interviewed dozens of top decision-makers about how they responded to the economic crisis and identified their organization. approach. The interesting thing is research has proven many of our former successful leaders are struggling with. In fact, the year 2020 appears to behave like an accelerator; traits inherent only in the minority of leaders are seen more broadly – and are arguably essential to thrive in our new normal.

But why? The answer is simple: 2020 requires leaders to empathize, engage in hot issues, look beyond their company to society at large, abandon processes, believe think of their employees and react to changes in a moment. Before March 2020, leaders with these characteristics constitute a minority of leaders. And although more traditionally minded leaders often struggle to demonstrate these qualities, they are now a requirement. to be successful in the future.

Last year brought a whole host of issues to their boiling point, with racial inequality, economic inequality and crisis among them. This has created a need for more inclusive cultures, more diversity in buying options, and a shift towards an increasingly global and virtual workforce above all else.

The future will bring more Unpredictable change at breakneck speedSo leaders must be prepared to face tough challenges in the coming years. This is why the following traits – which can be considered endemic to “messy” leaders – can also be successful.

1. They prioritized kindness over old-fashioned professionalism

According to one poll in GallupThe report of daily anxiety among full-time employees has increased from 37% in 2019 to 60% in 2020.

The old “we only talk business here” leadership approach can function in steady times. But when the employees are struggling emotionally and perhaps financially, it gets out of place and cold. Our team of researchers found that the leaders who struggled to cope with locked-in times and calculated racial fairness by 2020 are the ones who tend to use professionalism as a shield to avoid difficult but essential conversations. Despite that, we’ve reached the point where organizations can no longer dodge sensitive topics like race and mental health. Staff are asking for these chats and many leaders feel exposed.

On the contrary, top performers are those who have the courage to speak on emotional (and even controversial) topics, thus engaging their employees at a personally decisive level. They look to the void because it is important to their people. They understand that change starts with teaching difficult topics.

To reflect the traits of these messy leaders, key players should consider an approach to support their employees and their communities. They should prioritize compassion over professionalism and freely engage in personal conversations without any agenda other than deepening their own understanding. They may find it difficult to initiate these conversations with many employees who are still working from home. However, rather than waiting for accidental interactions, they may find that these conversations need to take place in specific meetings rather than between them.

2020 is also the year when leaders feel responsible for social impact in a way they never felt before. Before 2020, it may be possible to work in a relatively lax group of ethical aspirations, but leaders in general have assumed that decisions should be made primarily through a commercial lens. Last year, the leaders asked the leaders to have a deep understanding of how their business decisions affect the world at large.

We’ve seen this work in a variety of ways businesses respond to pandemics: Example: craft distilleries in Wisconsin do news when they switched part of the production line to hand sanitizer. Many of these companies provide free hand sanitizer at a time when their businesses are in trouble, but they already have a close relationship with the local community so they understand the importance of implementing it. positive action.

Related: Emotional Intelligence is the Key to Leadership in a Time of Crisis

2. They focus less on processes and more on results

One of the common traits of leaders struggling to find a foothold in 2020 is over reliance on processes that slow change. When a crisis strikes, these leaders look to the past for signs of the future, and they try to “manage” change the way they always have.

This approach is problematic for two reasons: First, most of us have never seen widespread lockouts caused by pandemics, so the past doesn’t offer any useful models. to predict the future. Second, traditional change management sees change as a linear process with a clear start, middle, and end, but increasingly CEOs are forced to take the lead in an environment where change is zero. change.

The leaders who thrived in the unpredictable environment created by this global health crisis are the ones ready to change. These are “messy” leaders who are concerned with results rather than process, allowing them to react quickly to changing conditions.

Case in point: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center would have increase that is likely in weeks though, its data models suggest it will take several years. In our study, another leader told the story of moving 14,000 employees out of headquarters to work remotely. If the company even contemplated such a change under normal conditions, it would have taken the company months to evaluate and implement the stages. However, without time to spare, leaders set goals, trust their employees, and make conversions in just as little as possible. Five-day.

Now, CEOs realize that the biggest hurdle to daring and speed is not the technical limit. Instead, prejudice thinking about what might happen, processes that slow things down, and bottlenecks created by the chain of commands are the real limiting factors. To be successful in a future where the next crisis lurks, leaders must accept change as a constant.

As they always expect that conditions can change, leaders can take over processes with fast cycle testing. Leaders should stop trying to plan and anticipate future scenarios. Instead, they should take the most relevant actions for the moment and adjust their approach as the data emerges.

Related: 5 essential WFH tools for new remote employees

3. They embrace the power of ignorance

We find that the leaders who struggle most during the crisis are those who fall victim to “superhero syndrome”, or want to put on a brave face for their employees to show their strength. and expertise. Respected leaders in normal times see their people turn to them for guidance, but this only creates bottlenecks and inhibits creativity. When the pace of change became so fast that they couldn’t take the lead as usual, many people tried to compensate by working longer, unsustainable hours.

On the contrary, the leaders who are best able to weather the crisis are those who confidently leave the driver’s seat and admit that they don’t have all the answers. They are willing to give up their attachment to driving results – instead, they choose to exhibit vulnerability, humility, and confidence.

Giving up the need to develop strength and clear understanding will create the acceptance of working in a different way. It allows the groups in power to change and respond at higher speed. This does not mean that leaders should succumb to the urge to fall. Instead, it means gathering all of the smartest people in the room and asking, “How to friend Think we should handle this? “When leaders are not busy trying to keep the world on their shoulders, it helps them focus on the things that matter.

The year 2020 has changed the business landscape permanently and the responses will therefore affect how organizations deal with all pitfalls in 2021 onwards. The world will always be in chaos, which means leaders have to learn to lead messily. They have to move from a wait and see mindset to an experimental and learning approach to business. Those who expect change, lean toward the unknown, and have a distinct human approach will be in the perfect position for whatever the future can bring.

Related: What if the new normal is better?

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