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5 master leadership skills for 21st century disruption

Nov 03 2018 13:37
Carin Smith

Durban – Leadership is what drives the difference between winning companies and losers, according to international leadership expert Kate Sweetman, founder of the SweetmanCragun Group.

"It has a multiplier effect if you have a great leader in an organisation, while bad leaders suck the life out of everything. They take what could have been great in a company and destroy it," Sweetman told delegates at the annual congress of the SA Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) taking place in Durban recently.

She added that those great leaders need not be only at the top of an organisation. They can be anywhere in a company.

Her company undertook a two-year global study in 40 countries and 59 different industries to find out what kind of next generation leader an organisation needs for it to be successful.

"In the fast-changing world leadership has become ‘anaemic’. We found that the winning companies are not just involving technology, but it is about how they use technology," she explained.

"If Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos decided to target your industry for disruption, would your current company have the leadership to survive – or even thrive?"

She said if one compares leadership to software, it seems companies are trying to move into the 3.0 world with 1.0 software. Therefore, it is time for a significant leadership "upgrade" in the world as leadership has not evolved with the mega trends.

"It does not matter if you bring in AI or a great brand designer, you need the right leadership who gets the fast-changing world," she said.

"Leaders must act with increased boldness, courage, speed, passion and creativity. They must be highly attuned to their global ecosystem."

Sweetman's research found what she calls five master leadership skills that will separate the winners and the losers in the different way of seeing the world in the 21st century.

5 master leadership skills for the 21st century:

First inspire a movement

This is the overarching goal. You must ensure that people feel they absolutely have to engage with you and your brand because it is seen as "cool" and "happening".

Constantly inform yourself and your organisation of what is going on in the world.

"Empowered users are gravitating to brand experiences and platforms that are differentiated. It is all about curating and differentiating what you offer," said Sweetman. "Create an authentic, vibrant and resilient space that are valued by people. It is about creating fans."

She said it is about to what extent an organisation can create an extraordinary experience and to what extent the leaders of the organisation inspire their people to do that.

Solve unsolvable problems

Sweetman said this means you must do things differently. She gave Elon Musk as an example of someone who found solutions to problems he was told were impossible to solve.

Plug in external capabilities

"There is no way that you know all you need to know in your organisation to succeed. You don't have the technology or brand expertise. That is a fact. You must look outside for new ideas. It is about how rapidly you can do that," said Sweetman.

Mobilise at a moment’s notice

The fourth skill Sweetman’s research identified is the ability to work really fast and make changes in the shortest possible time.

Charge disruption

The 5th and culminating skill she recommends is to know what is going on in the world and what options you have.

In fact, everyone in an organisation needs to think that it is in a constant state of improvement, change and innovation. This is because the world is in a constant state of change.

"You cannot just do change once and then think your work is done," she emphasised.

Ask if your organisation knows enough about game-changing innovation emerging in the world.

You will either disrupt or be disrupted. Change before you have to is better than having to change because you have to.

"When waves of change approach you or your organisation, exceptional leaders will "charge" that disruption and become masters of change," said Sweetman.

"There is a whole world of opportunity out there." 

•    Fin24 was a guest of the SACSC at its congress.  

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sacsc  |  business  |  sa economy  |  leadership


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