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Transformational leadership: Four practices to steer your business through existing and emerging challenges

We are in a day and age where more than the product and the strategy, it's the people who lead a business to success. A transformational leader is the key to having the right people driving the organisation to success

Alexander Reisch        Last Updated: December 23, 2019  | 18:21 IST
Transformational leadership: Four practices to steer your business through existing and emerging challenges
Leaders need to be able to take risks and look at challenges as opportunities to transform their business, their people and themselves

The year 2020 is just around the corner. There's excitement for the upcoming New Year; the sound of twenty-twenty definitely has a ring to it! But what doesn't change is the complex business environment that leaders and organisations will need to navigate their way through.

Each year brings newer and bolder opportunities but also challenges, and frankly, I don't see that changing. But what definitely needs to change and evolve is the journey of transformation for all business leaders across the world. To my mind, there are three clear call outs here.

First, there is technology. We are in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, wherein the pace of businesses and evolution is much faster, thanks to the rapid advances in technology. It is imperative for leaders to not only be abreast with new technology but also promote a culture of innovation. Be the footbed for innovations that will transform the business tomorrow.

Also Read: BT MindRush: Setting the stage for business leaders

Secondly, the complexity of the global economic order is making the business environment more unpredictable by the day. The rise of the eastern economies in a US-backed liberal global order holds the promise of disruption much sooner than most leaders are prepared to handle. Threats encompassing rapid fluctuations in the climate, to strides in technology advancement; further increase the complexity of the business landscape.

Thirdly, societal challenges, like exclusive mindsets at individual, societal and national levels are leading to a reverse global shift from inclusivity to nationalism. Adding to the mix are the volatile political conditions in many countries that can completely change your business overnight. Overall, this is a time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, and leaders need to be prepared to take the bull by its horns.

Also Read: India emerges as a preferred hub of new-age innovation

So, is there a magic mantra to navigate through this? Well, a makeover to steer your business through existing and emerging challenges is key, and here's how I see it.

1. Transformation from Intelligence Quotient (IQ) to Emotional Quotient (EQ)

As a leader, one needs to be emotionally strong and competent. EQ not only contributes to the ability of collaborating and working successfully with your team but also to perceive one's own and others' emotions, to be able to drive them to achieve one shared goal. A key trait that showcases a leader's EQ is the openness to adapt to new ideas revolutionising the business landscape. It is important to be aware of, understand and manage one's emotions well, to be able to do it for others in the team and be a successful leader. EQ can also be developed through coaching and working closely with inspirational leaders.

2.Transformation from being inward to being outward

Companies need to keep reinventing themselves to ensure sustainable growth. Therefore, it is critical to contemplate how companies and leaders can look at creating a positive impact amongst societies, people and communities. Changing consumer dynamics have necessitated a shift in focus. Today the most critical challenge is the sustainability of products that companies manufacture or distribute. Given the global challenges and rising consumerism, preference is given to companies and products that are contributing towards making the environment better or preserving it at the least. It is equally important to reinvent the approach to market and who do we see as a market. An innovation-led transformation can be the key for your organisation to survive and flourish over the next decade.

3. Transformation from hierarchy and competition to partnership and collaboration

Today, collaboration - internal or external - is the key for anticipating the next big thing first. Collaboration helps in bringing together diverse insights and experiences, to identify and evaluate possible solutions faster. Therefore, companies are investing in technologies that can help their employees transcend departmental, geographic, linguistic and cultural barriers to find solutions to real issues. Today companies are working with their employees as their partners in growth. This has not only increased the pace at which teams are coming up with new solutions, but also simplified processes and brought in cost efficiencies.

Looking at the global business landscape, some technology companies have joined forces with their peers, to either find solutions to larger problems or transform the industry, by converging experience and bringing in synergies. These collaborations have the potential to create a new future, not just for a company or the country but the whole world.

4. Transformation of leaders themselves

Globalisation is not only driving a dramatic shift in how we do business but also what leaders need, to succeed in a multi-cultural world or a global village. Leaders need an in-depth understanding of cultural nuances and preferences. Furthermore, technological advances are creating a need for upskilling and reskilling much more than ever before. Therefore, it is critical to be able to adapt one's style and ways of working, be it emotional, cultural or technological, to stay relevant to the business. 'Internal Transformation' forms a vital part of our leaders' journey.

A multitude of factors including digitisation and technological advancement, changing global economic order, redefined societal norms and emerging environmental challenges are shaping the consumers and the businesses of tomorrow. Leaders need to be able to take risks and look at challenges as opportunities to transform their business, their people and themselves. There is a dire need for leaders to become more efficient and adaptable as the world of work raises the bar in complexity. We are in a day and age where more than the product and the strategy, it's the people who lead a business to success. A transformational leader is the key to having the right people driving the organisation to success.

{The author is MD, IPM India Wholesale Trading Pvt. Ltd. (IPM India)}

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