QUESTION 1 Read the case study below and answer ALL questions that follow Leading in the 21st Century Barton, D., Grant, A., and Horn, M., 2012, McKinsey Quarterly
DUE DATE: 31 AUGUST 2012
It is often said that the principles of great leadership are timeless, or based on immutable truths. But when we meet with the men and women who run the world’s largest organisations, what we hear with increasing frequency is how different everything feels from just a decade ago. Leaders tell us they are operating in a bewildering new environment in which little is certain, the tempo is quicker, and the dynamics are more complex. They worry that it is impossible for chief executives to stay on top of all the things they need to know to do their job. Some admit they feel overwhelmed. To understand the leadership challenge of our volatile, globalized, hyper connected age more clearly, we recently initiated a series of structured interviews with the leaders of some of the world’s largest and most vibrant organisations. Excerpts from six of those conversations appear below. After presenting the ideas of these leaders on leadership, we offer a few additional reflections on the topic. They draw in part on the interviews, as well as on our experiences with clients; on conversations with dozens of experts in academia, government, and the private sector; and on our review of the extensive academic and popular literature on the subject. All reinforce our belief that today’s leaders face extraordinary new challenges and must learn to think differently about their role and how to fulfil it. Those who do may have an opportunity to change the world in ways their predecessors never imagined. Leading in an age of upheaval A convergence of forces is reshaping the global economy: emerging regions, such as Africa, Brazil, China, and India, have overtaken economies in the West as engines of global growth; the pace of innovation is increasing exponentially; new technologies have created new industries, disrupted old ones, and spawned communication networks of astonishing speed; and global emergencies seem to erupt at ever-shorter intervals. Any one of these developments would have profound implications for organisations and the people who lead them. Taken together, these forces are creating a new context for leadership. Mastering today’s personal challenges The rigors of leadership have prompted many leaders to think of themselves as being in training, much like a professional athlete: continually striving to manage their energy and fortify their character. There is a growing recognition of the connection between physical health, emotional health, and judgment—and of how important it can be to have precise routines for diet, sleep, exercise, and staying centered. The (now 24/7) public face of leadership Nearly everyone we spoke with commented on the challenge of dealing with constant scrutiny and of acting as a connector in a complex ecosystem. As the face of the organisation, leaders must be prepared to address the immediate, practical concerns of the job while also maintaining and articulating a long-term vision of the organisation’s purpose and role in society—all against a backdrop of 24-hour financial coverage, ubiquitous blogs, and Twitter feeds. That means learning new modes of communicating across today’s far-flung networks and working harder to craft clear, simple messages that resonate across cultures.
Decision making under uncertainty A final theme is that leaders must increasingly resist the temptation to cope with chaos and complexity by trusting their gut. At a time of extreme volatility, past experience is an unreliable guide to future outcomes. Leaders must create cultures of constructive scepticism and surround themselves with people who bring multiple perspectives and have no fear of challenging the boss. Preparing for a new era of leadership It’s never been realistic to break...