Business leadership: Driving innovation and change in a tumultuous world
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour but without folly” ~ Jime Rohn.
Many of the world’s most significant leaders, including Winston Churchill, Tony Blair, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lao Tzu, have discoursed at length about the art and science of leadership. These conversations range from the simplest, but powerful comments, to the most complex treatises involving a hypothesis and theoretical discourse proving or disproving the premise.
However, the fact remains that the topic of leadership is complex, consisting of more than one approach and solution to how best to lead. Therefore, at the outset of this discussion, we will base our starting point on the fact that there are many ways to lead successfully. Consequently, we will only look at ways to drive innovation and change in our post-modern world.
The state of the world today
There is no doubt that the global current geopolitical, socio-economic conditions play a significant role in ensuring a challenging corporate environment in which to drive business success.
Additionally, the world has moved from through the First, Second, and Third Industrial Revolutions and is now sitting in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This fact is significant due to the tremendous changes and technological developments that are part and parcel of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Before we look at the challenges and developments of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, let’s take a brief look at the first three Industrial Revolutions.
The First Industrial Revolution
This period first started in the eighteenth century and was primarily known for the first emergence of the mechanisation of industry as well as the move from an agrarian-based lifestyle to a mechanized-based lifestyle. The First Industrial Revolution utilized steam and water as its primary driver of product manufacture mechanization.
The Second Industrial Revolution
It followed on from the First Industrial Revolution at the end of the nineteenth century, and it was known for its technological developments around energy-based solutions involving electricity, gas, and oil. Succinctly stated, electric power was used in the factories to foster and improve the mass production of goods.
The Third Industrial Revolution
The Third Industrial Revolution was primarily associated with the rise of the Internet, electronics and electronic gadgets, and nuclear technology. This revolution built upon the use of electricity to drive product development in factories. However, it added advances in electric technology to automate product development.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Finally, the world is currently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and this period is unique in that its technological advances are blurring the lines between the “physical, digital, and biological spheres.” It is reasonable to assume that in itself this merging of technologies has a significant impact on the moral issues that currently face society as well as the practical challenges of adapting to the new technologies as a business leader.
One of the technological advances that has a significant impact on our modern world is the development of remote-controlled drones that can be used to deliver products purchased online via companies like Amazon. Or, these drones can be and are being used, in war zones to target the enemy without injury to the other side’s soldiers.
Ways to drive innovation and change as a business leader
As the quotation mentioned above by Jime Rohn notes, a leader needs to display positive characteristics like strength of character, empathy, humility, a sense of humour, and a unique insight into driving disruptive change through a positive leadership style.
Furthermore, the modern leader needs to develop a strong Emotional Quotient (EQ) or Emotional Intelligence to ensure a positive response to stressful situations that will more than likely be faced daily.
Simply stated, based on the above text, it is easy to see that being a successful leader in our post-modern world will always be a tough, but not impossible, challenge. It suffices to say that developing a high EQ is probably one of the essential character traits today’s leader must develop. Without a mature, innovative, forward-looking leader, it is almost certain that the modern business will flounder and possibly end up shutting down.