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Sep 7, 201711:54 AMOpen Mic

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Leadership in an age of disruption

(page 2 of 2)

A new approach to problem solving

The pressure to keep pace with rising customer expectations is causing organizations of all sizes to problem solve through creativity and innovation. In a command and control leadership structure, employees simply wait for the directives to trickle down from the top. In contrast, leaders who are closer to the work and engaged with their frontline employees will be in the best position to incubate a culture of creativity and innovation by supporting experimentation and learning, including the permission to fail. Sponsoring centers of excellence can further accelerate creativity and innovation.

Leaders today must embrace continuous problem solving to get ahead of emerging issues before they become serious. To do so, leaders need to think more expansively by moving past the scope of the immediate problem to instead focus on holistic, creative, and sustainable solutions that will achieve a greater impact.

Continuous learning is no longer optional, regardless of title. Without it, leaders today risk being an expert one day and a novice the next. Continuous learning, inextricably linked to problem solving, involves acquiring new knowledge, seeking out best practices, keeping current skills sharp, and gaining fresh perspectives.

What’s at stake?

Organizations need to get this right because their two most important stakeholder groups — customers and employees — have high expectations for leaders.

Customers are more empowered and savvy than ever before with expectations that transcend a brand name and product performance. Customers today are clamoring for a total experience, raising the bar even higher for brands. Leaders are challenged with creating an authentic brand experience, providing relevant solutions, engaging customers, listening and acting on customer feedback, and continuously innovating.

It’s not a cliché — employees are a company’s most important asset. Leadership that is absent purpose, transparency, empowerment, and engagement will cost the business handsomely. Employees will slowly disengage, impacting creativity and innovation, resulting in significant disruption and lost opportunity costs that should raise the alarm of the CFO. With the help of platforms like Glassdoor and Google, the employer brand will suffer as the company finds it increasingly difficult to attract talent.

We can all take steps to become better leaders. Take a moment to reflect on your own leadership style. Are you prepared to effectively lead in an age of disruption? What measures can you take to improve? Your bosses, employees, peers, customers, and suppliers will appreciate you more for it.

Michael Barry is a marketing and communications strategist. He has an MBA in international management (University of Dallas) and a BA in economics (University of Dallas).

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