Today, companies are facing uncertain times and significant transformations.
This means that today’s leaders will also have to adapt to the ever-changing environment.
The companies that are most successful in the digital age are led by leaders who keep learning, evolving, and changing. In other words, these are leaders who are not afraid to violate their leadership approach.
Paul Lanewand of PwC and Mahadeva Matt Mani dive deep into this topic in their new book, Beyond Digital, which explores how great leaders are transforming their organizations and playing a key role in shaping our future. The book is based on interviews with CEOs of some of the world’s largest and most respected organizations, including Jane Fraser of Citigroup and Frans van Houten of Royal Philips.
In the book, the authors discuss several paradoxes of leadership and the way leaders find balance. For example, they talk about leadership types such as “technological humanist”, “modest hero” or “honorable politician” – seemingly contradictory characteristics. For leaders to understand the contradictions in their management style and find the right balance, the authors recommend that they work on several things:
Get to know yourself better
Honesty is always important, especially for leaders. “The most successful of the interviewed leaders are those who take a step back and think about what they are good at, what their organization needs, and what areas they are not doing best and need to continue working to gain more competence. However, they are not satisfied with self-analysis alone. They gather information and seek feedback from everyone – boss, colleagues, customers, friends, and relatives, “says Lanewand.
Take, for example, Van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips. When taking responsibility for a new region in which the company is growing its business, Van Houten explains that the then CEO of Philips sent him there “to learn to lead people, not just behave like a smart guy in class.”
“Van Houten’s whole journey is a great transformation. He became CEO of the semiconductor business in 2004 without being an expert in the field. To become a better leader, he repeatedly puts himself in situations that force him to learn and develop, “says Manny.
Use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses
Getting better at something you don’t do very well is not so easy and time-consuming. However, to speed up this process, you need to learn to take advantage of your strengths.
“We found that the best leaders use their strengths to build other skills they need. For example, if they are not creative but disciplined, they use this discipline to give themselves time for activities focused on creative thinking and to adhere to their schedule. If they are not very good at building social contacts but are very organized, they develop a systematic approach and carefully plan their relationships with others, “says Manny.
Study those who are different from you
Almost all of us tend to build relationships with people who look and behave like us. However, leaders who do not go beyond their comfort zone and do not learn from others do themselves a disservice.
“We learn more from people who are not like us than from those who look like us,” Lanewand said. “We have noticed that the best leaders are looking for people who have strengths and experience other than their own. They embraced diversity, even if it initially made them uncomfortable. These leaders then listened and learned. They adapted their leadership approach based on what they observed, “he added.
Transformation is a time-consuming task for you and your entire team. Your team depends on your ability to make the difficult decisions needed to succeed. While it may be difficult to find time to cultivate against the backdrop of the many tasks you are overwhelmed with, it will ultimately help you lead your company to a successful transformation in the digital age and beyond.