Leading in a downturn to inherit the future

The article below from the financial times sums up the strategic leadership required to meet the challenge laid out on our ‘about us’ page

We face many challenges to achieving this, not least, the economic failure we are now experiencing and the natural response to ‘fight the last war with obsolete weapon’s’ but we have no option but to enter the future and we must envision what this future will be.

Human ingenuity and enterprise will ensure that some societies and organisations will exist and thrive as we attempt to ‘keep ahead of the oil curve.’ All future ingenuity, research, education, legislation and incentives must be directed to this end. 

Unfortunately, at this point, our leaders seem to have learnt little from our failure to ‘look to the downside’ of decisions, which led to the credit crunch and is powering us into the energy crunch. We desparately need now leaders that understand that

Leadership though uncertainty requires a multi-layered approach, involving interaction with state and non-state partners and the resource constrained environment. Strategic leaders are those who see their futures are dependent on the application of creativity and skill in the active and self-conscious, manipulation of resources to reduce their intensity in use, with the aim of enhancing predictability in a context of economic, social and environmental uncertainty.








………………….Leading in a downturn

So what are the essential ingredients of successful leadership in these troubled times?

The conventional wisdom has it that in uncertain times the role of the leader is to provide certainty, to be a rock against which the waves of disruption will crash. But our observations suggest that the most effective among them offer not the illusion of certainty, but the promise of constant change and adaptability. If we have learnt anything – not just from the current economic difficulties but from the economic history of the 20th century – it is that no sector is immune to the threat of disruptive change. Capitalism remains an aggressive and acquisitive social system. As Karl Marx put it, “one capitalist kills many”.

Leaders cannot see the future, but they can and must communicate a compelling picture of what the future might look like. It has become an overused concept, but vision remains important. The leader must communicate what the organisation stands for, what its purpose is and which values give it coherence. It is when organisations are in difficulties that their true commitment to core values are most severely tested. In addition, in a world awash with information overload, the leader’s voice must be distinctive in order to excite others to exceptional performance. …………….

…………………There is no recipe for good leadership but, as we have argued, it does involve several tensions. Do not claim to know the future but articulate a vision. Understand the politics but remain above them. Respond quickly to situational demands but act to reshape them. Focus relentlessly on task but build team cohesion. Identify with your employees but be prepared to take a step back. And be your authentic self but recognise that you have different, and difficult, roles to play.


Rob Goffee is professor of organisational behaviour and director of the Innovation Exchange at London Business School.

Gareth Jones is fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School and visiting professor of organisational behaviour at Insead. gjones@london.edu

Together they are the co-authors of Clever – Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People and Why Should Anyone be Led by You (forthcoming) and founding partners of Creative Management Associates.

Complete article http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fc5288e6-f927-11dd-ab7f-000077b07658.html


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