Leadership is waking to a new day and to a new way of running a business and performing their service. "What got us here, won't get us there." is yet another brilliant observation by my virtual board member, Tom Hood CPA. It's an idea perfectly suited to Leadership Transition today even though the ideas was crafted back in 2011.
As I interview clients and principals this theme continues to evolve, not always so succinctly as Tom said it but in words and phrases that somehow bring me back to his idea. I see it in behavior patterns that are so difficult to change. They've worked well for 40 years, so why won't they keep working for 40 more? I think it's because the rate of change itself grows exponentially. Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel with Andy Groove said that, "...the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years." The curious will ask what this has to do with Leadership. It was precisely this exponential explosion in the digital world that has led to the empowerment of the individual. In simple terms, each of us has tremendous power in our hands that only 40 years ago were only available in massive building sized computers.
"There has been a breakdown in trust and a there is a belief that a better way can be found."
To me, this resulted in opening up the world through faster processing, data compounding and mining, and of course the Internet itself - all in the hands of any individual in the world. This slides the bargaining chip, if not in favor of the energetic youthful computer savvy, at least closer to center between this employee and employer. It's just not the same world in which most of us grew up. But, it is also a change in attitude, perhaps fostered by loss of credibility in corporations, banks and even the government. There has been a breakdown in trust and there is a belief that a better way can be found.
I think we can't lead in the same manner any longer. Surely, some will. But many are finding resistance to the old methods. This head butting will lead to defection in the ranks, to say it politely. Leaders of the past 30-40 years will need to open their minds and hearts to the new generation of workers who envision a more collaborative future, where business is won through team efforts, where ideas are discovered through the synthesis of many minds in order to overcome the competition and win the day. Future leaders are not emulating the habits and work styles of the older leaders. Rather, they are clearing their own path to success. (See my article, "When Hindsight isn't 2020: how to move forward with confidence (anyway)" for my take.
It starts with communication, listening, open discussions with no fear of repercussion. Both generations need to listen to learn. Then comes collaboration to build a win-win solution, or process that respects the needs of leadership and future leaders. Progress will not happen without creativity. Youthful exuberance needs guidance from the voice of experience to avoid unintended results and to anticipate reactions to any decision before implementing. The results can be positively inspiring and can motivate a team and all those who surround and observe. I'm not the first person to acknowledge that there are many paths to success.
William M. Burwell is a retired Architect and Interior Designer whose career focused on corporate interior architecture in sole proprietorships, and partnerships from 9 to 120 staff. Bill retired in 2014 and began Burwell Consulting a Firm Marketing and Management Consulting firm, to share the wisdom and experience of those 45 years Bill writes articles sharing his experience in four keystone practice areas: Marketing, Design, Project Management and Practice Management. He graduated from the University of Houston College of Architecture in 1971 and now serves the College on the Dean's Committee on Excellence. Check him out at www.burwell-consulting.com