Top leadership qualities in today’s unpredictable world
Question for today’s leaders: how can I lead in a world like this?
By IMD President Dominique Turpin
For the foreseeable future, the world won’t be a stable or predictable place like it used to be.
Think about the countries which were touted a few years ago as the future of growth for global business but are now stumbling – like Brazil or China which now offer something much more complicated than straightforward profitable expansion. Even commodities such as oil, which now costs a fraction of the price it commanded a few years ago, can’t be relied on.
VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) is the new normal and will stay that way.
Another striking change is that “global competition,” once a phrase that meant the United States, Japan, and Europe, now refers to a genuinely global fight. Businesses need to be as aware of competitors based in Vietnam and Thailand as they are of those in Silicon Valley and Frankfurt.
Companies are increasingly ignoring traditional competitive borders. Thanks to the “digital vortex” everyone is vulnerable. Digital disruption is like a vortex in that it exerts a rotational force that draws everything that surrounds it into its center. A company can be on the periphery one moment, and then sucked into the middle the next. There is no uniform or predictable path for industries in the digital vortex.
Taken together this means that executives need to ask themselves one key question: how can I lead in a world like this?
So to lead in world where you never know what is going to be around the corner, being at the top is no longer about ruling with an iron fist. Leaders are there to inspire, not to make every decision. They have to create the vision and provide the conditions needed for their team to perform and be ready for anything.
Do you have what it takes?
Dominique Turpin is the President of IMD and the Nestlé Professor.
Learn how to develop your leadership skills with the IMD Global Leader Index, a free tool that allows managers to assess and benchmark their leadership skills, or at IMD's upcoming program Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP).