We live in a time of uncertainty and change, where complex challenges will require creative solutions, and strength will lie in agility and invested engagement.
The Social Age sees an evolved social contract between employee and Organisation, the emergence of powerful social communities, enhanced accountability, and the democratisation of technology, leading to a rebalancing of power and evolution of society itself.
The proud heritage, strong global team structures, and clear hierarchical leadership that many of our Organisations carry will not suffice to meet challenges that extend beyond the known and beyond the system that we can see.
We will need to collaborate in complex ways, discover answers in silent spaces, and learn to reach out across the cultural rifts that divide us.
The other legacy strengths that we carry may not be enough either: assets and systems, processes and control, these are the things that carried us to scale and strength in a known world. They are our industrial legacy. But what if we need a new type of Organisation for a new type of world?
How will we find it. Or how will we build it?
We will need leaders, both Formal and Social, but Leadership Development must be about more than handing out answers: it should be about creating the landscape and space within which we can learn to lead.
And part of that journey will be to listen: to listen to a broadly empowered and enabled Organisation where every voice is heard, and agency is broadly shared.
Because the Organisation of the future, a Socially Dynamic Organisation, will be one that is not authored from above, but rather a story that is written from within.
It will be an Organisation of narrative spaces, democratised learning, distributed power, and interconnection.
It will trade in two spaces: the formal space of hierarchy and process, system and control, and the social spaces of community and innovation, reputation and pride. It will create spaces where individuals can willingly invest, beyond their time alone.
Some of our leaders will hold positions at the top of the Organisation, and others will hold reputation within the system. Some will be formal, and others Social. But all will act with humility, a willingness to learn, an acceptance that they will sometimes be wrong, but will be held within a culture that rewards this vulnerability within the arms of a broad and strong community.
This will be a culture that hears weak voices, that is able to move beyond the legacy of the industrial Organisation, and into the potential of the truly Social one.
It will be proud not of commercial achievement alone, but of collective action: it will be successful, but not at any cost. This type of Organisation will be deeply fair, and socially accountable: not squatting upon it’s local communities, but built alongside them.
The leadership we need is a leadership of humility, trusted in execution, authentic in action.
Leadership within broadly curious systems that learn: learning to change.
And if we want this type of Socially Dynamic Organisation, we will have to build it: one step, one word, one action at a time.
There will be a cost, and a leader is the one who asks what price needs to be paid, and to ensure that people are only asked to pay according to their ability.
There will be a weight to be carried, and the leaders we need will be the ones who ensure it is carried fairly.
Our success will not simply be celebrated by loud voices, but will be carried into the silence, by leaders whose instinct is to reach out beyond the noise.
This is the opportunity: to be the leaders that we desire, to be the leaders that we need.
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