By Heather Gibson, Managing Director, Pendulum Partnership
The cold hard facts? Today’s battle soon won’t matter. To make it happen in a perpetually disrupted world you need to be limitless; a leader with dreams willing to act through your own values to create opportunities relentlessly, and victories occasionally
Nothing gives a leader greater satisfaction that delivering outcomes and kicking goals. Intelligent, visionary and integrity filled wins that seek to attain legacy and respect; to help others climb onto shoulders and take on the future mantle. However, the reality of our world right now is that the sheer act of delivery is a myriad of difficulty as the layering effects of contextual challenges, driven both by internal and external change, has made it feel like walking through treacle and constantly being pulled back from the end game. The questions you are facing are not only fundamental, but to some extent unknowable. Whilst economic disruption made us realise that business model change was required, time has moved on and the real elephant is now in the room: capability. Make no mistake, this is the game-changer scenario asking the question: how are we going to ensure we have the right people to bring these models into reality? Even more importantly, do have the right leaders around the table to have this very discussion?
The answer to these questions lies first and foremost with leadership and, more specifically, with a new era of leadership that unmasks the real you.
To contemplate game-changing questions will necessitate a shift in mindset and resilience that is brutal and involves unlearning self-imposed rules to adopt a values-based approach to decision making. This is the essence of a leader’s transformation to becoming limitless; a character made of true grit able to act without mental limitations in processing scenarios and creating action; to see possibilities in every situation so that progressive steps can be taken towards building a sustainable business that is able to survive, positively and profitably, in a landscape that is rapidly changing.
To be a limitless leader is to live with a make it happen mindset of no apologies and no excuses, and think beyond accepted wisdom and approved strategy. A limitless leader is relentless and fearless, someone who does not accept the pull back to status quo as a comfort zone to satisfy short or even medium-term perspective. This leader is willing to act within the remit of change within change; able to recognise new and unexpected scenarios which cannot be ignored and demand a new plan of attack. Limitless leaders operate with their ‘eyes up’ to what is on the horizon at all times and are prepared to form new actions as a result, even when within touching distance of the finish line. These leaders have learnt a ‘think different’ mindset that empowers true freedom and mental clarity. The future is you; leaders need to put their own intellect, emotion and spirt on the line in the way they think and act to breed creativity and curious problem-solving.
Trust is the currency of change, transparency is essential. More important than pounds and pence, the strategy and the plan; this mantra is the single most important unlearning for leaders to become limitless. It is the constant elephant in the room and the wall that needs to come tumbling down in no uncertain terms. Business is all about change and the leadership required to make real impact is all about sacrifice. Sacrifice of the lowest hanging fruit for doing what’s right; a willingness to stand up and say exactly what you think even when there is considerable pressure to deliver. It is vital that leaders get comfortable with being uncomfortable and communicating their inner thinking without fear of reprisal; even when pushed the challenge is to push back and say no without fear. This is what true accountability looks like and why the shift in thinking is so crucial. Leaders who lead on the basis of strong, clear vision and entrenched values can drive a truly positive and empowered business which is able to evolve and grow. Moreover, in operating with true individual transparency a leader can not only confidently navigate change and deliver incremental outcomes to get to the bigger goal, they are also laying the foundation for an organisational culture that has the potential to value thinking differently and bring new ideas to the fore.
Leveraging thinking and applying these to the everyday scenarios of business is the essence of creativity and the heart of innovation.
Instead of formal, tried and tested, think in terms of informaliity, entrepreneurship and individuality. It may sound simple enough, but this is an incredibly challenging cultural shift due to the existing paradigm of leadership. Transparency is a huge block to overcome, but once a leader has become free to act intuitively and with a genuinely think different mindset, this passion and curiosity is palpable. Becoming a limitless leader is to be willing to engage as broadly and as widely as possible with people so that they can develop their resilience and clarity and contribute to the solving of problems known and unknown. The level of communication required is different. There may not always be a direct call to action or a logical need to engage, rather, it is the willingness to communicate and engage in spite of this that is crucial; doing nothing builds resistance, mistrust and ignorance.
Change is all about momentum and any loss of pace in your business is a risk. More often than not pace stalls because of the status quo pull.
We tell ourselves it all feels a bit too hard or it was someone else’s fault or we will do it differently and better next time, but the reality is that this is not true. It fails because of lack of cohesion, conflicting agendas and a lack of transparency. Here comes the sacrifice piece again; the future of your business lies with you and the way in which you are thinking about your change, but the outcome is never about you. You have to put the higher and long-term perspective first. Leaders must constantly think in terms of elevation as the very starting point for becoming limitless. The problem is, you don’t know what the problem is; this is the central challenge of leadership. As a result, your game face needs to change to become far more compassionate, gracious and non-judgemental. To ensure that you accept the reality of disruption with humility and integrity, and that it impacts not only your grand plan, but also on the lives of everyone involved. There are no short cuts or places to hide in this new era of leadership and the shift in a leader’s thinking lies simply in the belief that something is possible.
One hundred percent uncertainty is the only certainty. Outcomes and legacy will be delivered chipper style; by incrementally breaking down barriers to progress outcomes. The energy is relentless and the mindset needed is brutal; what we face is unknown and not what most established leaders have been taught up until this point. Even if it feels safe for you now, practice transparency and face up to what might be. Get connected with your inner self and your personal vision for your business, align these to your values and just remember who you are. The intellect, thinking and understanding you have is the gift of innovation and progress to make sense of variables both seen and unseen. You are limitless right now. Relax into the think different mindset; the future is you. Dream, think and do.