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To Lead, First Listen

To Lead, First Listen
From Recruiter - August 19, 2017

Anyone who is even remotely interested in business literature has, at some point, read an article on how to develop good leadership qualities. Focus, confidence, integrity, passion, and competency often top the list, and for good reason. All great leaders need to possess these characteristics, and they need toconsciously cultivatethese traitson a continuous basis.

These qualities are important, but are they enough to lead successfully in a business climate where volatility and change have become the norm? A few decades ago, an organization could rely on a visionary leader to see the big picture and help steer the ship in the right direction to hit both immediate and long-term goals.

Times have changed, thoughand drastically. Organizations of all types and sizes face increasingly complex and unpredictable challenges. In todays volatile business climate, businesses experience unprecedented degrees of turnover, competition, disruption, and uncertainty.The leadership qualities that once paved the path to success are now merely the price of admission to play in a high-stakes game withslim margin for error.

For those of us over the age of forty, the classic leadership archetype tends to be a self-assured individual who always has the answers and knows how to communicate them confidently and unambiguously through a sequential top-down chain of command. In this model, a few people at the top of the chain have access to the greatest amount of informationeverything from customer feedback to financial dataand they use this input to make all major decisions for the entire organization. This type of leadership used to work well in a world where things changed slowly and business dynamics were fairly predictable from quarter to quarter.

In the midst of disruption, the challenge for most leaders is gettingeveryone moving in unison when the goal posts and the rules of the game are constantly changing. Team alignment is absolutely essential to achieving anything of real significance, and agility has quickly become the most critical ingredient of success in turbulent times.

Consequently, the need to be right is being replaced by the need to be flexible. Flexible leaders can change their plans to maintain productivity during transitions and periods of chaos. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) asserts that rapid organizational change is one of the most significant leadership development challenges facing the businesses of tomorrow. Like Cisco and IMD, the CCLhasfound that many organizations have mastered the operational and/or structural sides of change while merely skimming the surface in terms of the people side of change.

The CCL recommends implementing change leadershipthat is, focusing on the phases of change and the emotions associated with those changes to help people cope andgain desired results from new directions, systems, or initiatives. Change leadership requires leadersand organizationsto fosterbeliefs and mindsets that will develop the practices and behaviors that help people adapt to change.



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