Who is the future leader? What kind of skills and personality? The future leader must be a change-maker and a transformational agent, able to disrupt the organization and to lead it to business growth and social growth.
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The future leader should be a change-maker and a transformational agent able to assure consistency across multiple strategies, to nurture and feed the most critical capabilities, to recognise and empower informal platforms of influence, to enhance diversity and inclusiveness, to make decisions based on data insights, to generate social growth.
The future leader should be a visionary leader able to keep linked all the parts of the organisation in a common and coordinated effort toward a big common objective. The strong capability to understand the competitive scenario must lead to the most correct strategic mainstream. The future leader must have the courage to disrupt the traditional organizational approaches in order to follow a flat and short model. To successfully face the new challenges, a new skill-set required to the future leader is made of:
- analytical skills, aimed at theBig data analysis;
- brand management skills aimed at buildingbrand values and corporate identity;
- communications skills, aimed at engaging stakeholders andspreading the corporate words;
- interpersonal skills, such as resilience, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving.
The digital revolution is requiring a different and more human kind of leadership. Successful leaders are masters of competing skills and competencies aimed at minimising weaknesses mistake risk. It is not enough to have excellent technical skills and a very high QI to get strong performances from a team. The concept of emotional intelligence is the key successful factor of the tomorrow’s leadership, a mix of ability to know and control yourself, as well as to understand, inspire and involve others. Emotional intelligence means the ability to recognise one’s own emotions and those of others, to manage both of them, to interact positively with others to the ultimate objectives.1
Despite the natural attitude of the company departments to approach the goals from their own viewpoints, with unavoidable conflicts of interest and communications problems, the new leader should work through persuasion rather than through authority to coordinate the company efforts. In this perspective, a company can no longer be product or sales-driven. Transforming into a true customer-driven company requires developing a -wide passion for customers; organising around customer segments instead of products; and understanding customers through qualitative and quantitative research. The new future leader must persuade senior management of the need to become customer-driven in order to adopt a very flexible organisational solution aimed at allowing short and rapid communication, and multidisciplinary teams. In addition, the new future leader must attract and retain strong talents, as well as adopt innovative reward measurement systems.
The task is not easy. However, a customer-driven organisation is not enough without creativity. In a very hard competitive scenario, where companies copy advantages and strategies, the best answer is to build a capability in strategic innovation and imagination, that comes from assembling tools, processes, skills, and measures that let the firm generate more and better new ideas than its competitors. All the departments must work together to achieve customer goals, each one by the corresponding area of competence and responsibility, and according to a deep understanding of the company vision and philosophy which can be assured by a strong and visionary leader with a short organisation and horizontal alignment among the departments, so everyone understands, appreciates, and supports the marketing effort.2
The new future leader must be disruptive to radically and positively change the status quo; risk-taker, to assess the risks to face in order to achieve the results; heroic, to take care of people and to enhance the continuous improvement; connector to boost an inclusive and supportive approach aimed at inspiring and fostering to the final mission; socially responsible, because there is no development without social growth. Without concerning to protect the status-quo, it is essential to continuously innovate and to change in order to successfully compete.
The future leader must be able to change things when they go well: if a company changes something when it goes wrong, it is already late.
1: Daniel Goleman, The Focused Leader, Harvard Business Review, December 2013.
2: Kotler P., Keller K., Marketing Management, 15th edition, Chapter 1, Pearson, p. 47.