Friday, 7 October 2011

Essential Needs and Requirements of Leadership

"The Times, They are A-Changin"

In some recent research by IBM, 1500 business leaders from 60 countries and 33 industries were asked to list the three most important qualities needed in this new economic environment.  The top three may surprise you, maybe not.  They were: creativity, integrity and global thinking.  The next six (in order) were: influence, openness, dedication, and focus on sustainability, humanity and fairness.
Some of these qualities are listed in recruiting school leaders but the skills and abilities still preferred are things like the capacity to inspire and motivate others (still valid in my opinion) vision (also a necessary characteristic) and a high level of energy and enthusiasm for advancing the mission of the school.
One of the largest challenges seen by these business leaders is the ability to manage complexity and perhaps that says it all.  As our society has added layer upon layer of information technology, increased economic uncertainty, added to the density of population centers, looked at infrastructure and environmental concerns, and a spawned a revolution and paradigm shift in education, leaders will need an amazing repertoire and personal resource bank of intellect and emotion to deal with it.
Holly Green, CEO of The Human Factor, puts it this way:  “Leading in new ways will require a lot of things, but it all starts with recognizing that we have to learn additional skills and learn how to unlearn some of the ones we have relied on for success to date. We have to develop an awareness of our own thinking processes and be willing to shift them. Then we have to challenge our beliefs and assumptions, constantly considering “what if…” not just about our customers and our markets, but about the way we do things within our organizations and why we do them that way. We have to develop the ability to consider multiple perspectives and focus on winning despite all the noise and distraction. We must constantly ask the right questions and be flexible when everything changes again.”
I would equate “winning” with being successful and say further that we need to be able to have laser like focus on what our goals are and how we intend to achieve them.  It is rather like the athlete, musician or artist who spends a lot of time training in order to do well or to express his or her craft at the highest level.
Finally, from all that I hear, see and read, it seems like this next generation of leaders will need to be especially well-versed in creativity and innovation.  And that will require some real expertise in designing, managing and implementing change, perhaps in alignment with some of the biggest changes in this century.

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