As business leaders seek ways to innovate, inspire and adapt, many companies are increasing their investments in leadership development initiatives, viewing them as a critical piece of their business strategy. However, truly visionary leaders will be those who are willing to understand where they need to evolve and what new skills they need to master.
There are three common competencies of visionary leaders.
According to a survey of business leaders, one of the top challenges leaders face is managing change and innovation. Yet, this is a fundamental capacity required of all leaders in today’s highly adaptive, disruptive marketplace. As such, leaders must hone their skills within three areas that are fundamental to change and innovation: risk-taking, change management and courageous leadership.
Become a calculated risk-taker
Leaders today must think like entrepreneurs, where risk-taking is inherent to their success. However, taking risks for the sake of risk-taking can be detrimental. In fact, successful entrepreneurs tend to take risks in ways that limit their potential losses. They are calculated risk-takers.
The same holds true for leaders. Executives need to be willing to take strategic risks, make investments, create action plans to overcome risk and encourage others to research alternatives for the betterment of the company.
Being willing and able to take calculated risks also means not being afraid of failure. Learn how to appreciate failure and see it as a means to bigger and better achievements. Oftentimes, failure is a better teacher than success and if you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you’ll never be able to change.
Become effective at change management
Restructurings, turnarounds, and disruptive shifts are now status quo, making it essential to for leaders today to be effective change agents. In fact, research from McKinsey suggests that “half of all efforts to transform organizational performance fail either because senior executives don’t act as role models for change, or because people in the organization defend the status quo.”
In order to understand what successful change agents do differently, business leaders can look to talent and development assessments and programs to benchmark what skills or behaviors they may need to improve. This includes the ability to embrace complexity and become more energized when the requirements of a situation change, demonstrating the opportunities that change will offer and staying focused on the future, engaging the commitment of others by answering the “what’s in it for me” question, focusing on performance improvements and accountability, and recognizing that when change takes longer to implement, it is frustrating and de-motivating.
Become a courageous leader
A major part of a leader’s role is to make tough decisions, but courageous leaders do so with confidence, conviction and compelling communication. Leaders today must engage their audience while also being persistent in the face of adversity and dissension. That means sharing opinions and needs articulately, even when they may be unpopular.
Visionary leaders will need to expose themselves to difficult situations and decisions that may involve high risk and high reward. Look for ways to communicate opinions with confidence and clarity in order to gain the commitment from those involved.
Without courageous leadership, executives are limited to executing the will of others and cannot add true value to the direction and strategy of the organization. In fact, any significant initiative or strategic objective for the organization will rely, almost exclusively, on your ability to lead it courageously to success.
Be a leader for the future
Leading today is challenging amid achieving aggressive growth, implementing new product or service offerings, navigating change and finding new ways of delivering value to customers. Yet, research has found that while 70 per cent of executives say they regard innovation as a key driver of growth, 65 per cent of them were only “somewhat” confident about the decisions they took to implement it.
Fortunately, the competencies required for leaders today can be built. The key is knowing what needs to be built and what is already foundationally strong. This is often the only difference between companies that excel in their industry and those who fail.