What Emotionally intelligent Leaders Do in Disruptive TimesArticle by Maynard Brusman, March 22, 2020
What Great Leaders Do in Disruptive Times
We’ve moved past the industrial age to the information age, where data, blockchain, and quantum computers may prove to be the great disruptors in every economy, sector, segment, and industry. Understanding the basics of these technologies can help leaders address fears and engage all stakeholders in the development of strategies and tactics for sustainable technologies and disruptive innovations.
Examine your assumptions. What do you know about disruptive innovation? What do your employees know? Here are just a few topics to consider:
Data: Facebook, Google and Twitter now collect 5.6 billion bits of data per day. And in just the first three weeks of February 2020, HBR published 11 articles on the subject of data. How are you using data? Do your employees understand how their data is being collected and used?
Blockchain: a growing list of records that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. The data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Reuters has created a graphic of this process.
Quantum computers: a handful of companies have introduced prototype quantum computers. The fundamental component is the quantum bit, or qubit, which can have a value of 0 or 1 at the same time. This allows quantum computers to consider and evaluate many outcomes simultaneously, thereby increasing their calculating power exponentially.
Mission, Values, and a Triple-Bottom Line
Review your mission, values, and understanding of a Triple-Bottom Line.
Twenty-five years ago, John Elkington coined the phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” In 2018, he pointed out the misuse as an accounting framework, where profit remains center stage. In the HBR article Elkington explains, “The TBL wasn’t designed to be just an accounting tool. It was supposed to provoke deeper thinking about capitalism and its future, but many early adopters understood the concept as a balancing act, adopting a trade-off mentality.” The goal of the triple bottom line was to transform a system change; a disruptor to unsustainable sectors and a genetic code for next-generation market solutions.
Rather than re-distribute wealth, could we pre-distribute it? Could we democratize the way that wealth gets created in the first place? These are just two of the questions Don Tapscott posed in a TEDTalk. “Technology doesn’t create prosperity, people do. But here’s where technology has escaped out of the genie bottle. It’s giving us another opportunity to rewrite the economic power grid and the old order of things, and to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems, if we will it.”
Disruptive Times Call for Compassion, Learning, and Conversations
Fear of overwhelm keeps us from recognizing the feelings (and existence) of others, and often, even our own fears. Ironically, the key to overwhelm is an ongoing practice of compassion.
Practice compassion: Mindfulness teacher Tara Brach, PhD, has developed a great tool leaders can use to practice compassion daily. In her book, Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN (Viking, 2019) Brach details a four-step meditation that quickly breaks the grip of fear, judgment, shame, and other difficult emotions:
- Recognize what is happening
- Allow life to be just as it is
- Investigate with a gentle, curious attention
- Nurture with loving presence
Grounded in modern brain science, the practice of RAIN helps leaders uncover limiting beliefs, fears, and our tendency to feed a sense of urgency that chokes our creativity.
Support learning: Learning and development is more than teaching employees the knowledge they need to perform the basic requirements of their job, rather, it encompasses a broader process to increase skills and abilities across a variety of contexts.
According to a 2019 employee survey reported by Statista, the top five skills employees need to develop are influencing and negotiating (46%), having difficult conversations, design thinking, leading and managing change, and coaching.
Likewise, effective leaders pursue personal and professional development opportunities to improve their competence, self-awareness, and other-relatedness. They grow in ways that are transformative, not just transactional.
Have the conversations: Recognize and acknowledge fear and uncertainty.
In the recent Oscar winning movie, American Factory, documentary film makers take a thoughtful look at how a Chinese billionaire opened a factory in an abandoned General Motors plant located in Ohio. It is a deeply nuanced view of globalization, the decline of labor and organized labor, and the impact of artificial intelligence through automation. And your employees are talking about it.
Are you engaging in these conversations? How?
Despite all the advances in technology and innovation, organizations succeed because of people.
As USA sailing team skipper Rome Kirby says, “Stuff happens at a pretty high speed. The pace of the game now has changed a lot, so we got to make decisions and communicate at a pretty high pace…when you get it right, and sail well, it’s the team that wins the race.”
That’s why CEO and helmsman Nathan Outteridge brings home the gold medals. He and some of his team mates have sailed together for as much as ten years. According to Outteridge, “The F50 is a one-designed boat, so all the foils, all the rudders, all the wings, everything is the same. The only reason one boat goes faster than another is because of what the people onboard are doing…if each person doesn’t do their role properly, performance suffers.”
Remember: your communications should be logical and consistent with facts and experience. To understand nuances, explore both sides of the coin. While you want to strike an emotional chord, avoid using fear. Instead, address the interest of all stakeholders. A qualified executive coach can help.
Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist & Executive Coach
Trusted Leadership Advisor
Professional Certified Coach (PCC), International Coach Federation
Board Certified Coach (BCC)
San Francisco Bay Area
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Tags: emotional intelligence, executive coaching, leadership development, mindful leadership