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The 21stC Leadership Challenge

01-Mar-2017 Have you taken the 21st Century Leadership Challenge?

You may ask, ‘why does a senior executive like me need to question my global leadership capability?’

None of us can take our experience for granted. Not you, nor me. Resting on our laurels is ill-advised and a career limiting move. The pace of change in the world, its economies, technology, communications, information and leadership is greater than most of us realise.

Are you doubling your know-how?

According to futurists, knowledge growth was linear until the introduction of the printing press and from then on it has been exponential. They estimate that between AD1 and 1500 information in the world doubled, but then the pace quickened. By 1900 it was doubling every 100 years, by WWII it was doubling every 25 years and today it is doubling every 13 months. What happens when that reduces to 6 months or less?

How can we possibly keep up with this increasing rate of change? Technologies, their applications and social media force us constantly to transform the way we work. Alternative products, services and solutions are introduced almost daily while whole new industries arise out of the blue and old technologies become redundant.  Does this mean we are always on the back foot? I guess for many of us, it does.

Let’s not be naïve, just because our titles include the word executive, partner, director, manager or chief, doesn't mean we are immune to the need for continuous education, research, learning and broader work experiences.

Are you expanding your cultural experience?

As a 21st century leader, new technologies and increasing knowledge are not our only challenges. If you are responsible for regional or global business, or have a highly diverse customer and/or employee base, then your cross-cultural leadership capability needs to be growing exponentially too. Societies, populations and employees are now super-mobile thanks to the ease with which we can move about the planet and connect with people from different places.

To be a 21st century leader you need to have lived and worked in several cultures to know how country cultures can aid or hinder business growth and how they can stifle or enable your business performance and profits.
Competitive advantage can come from adding ‘global citizens’ to your organisation.

That is, people who place their identity with a ‘global community’ rather than a specific nation or place will almost certainly bring diversity of opinion, cross-cultural management skills and adaptability to your top table.
As you build this diverse top team, check your own pedigree. If you haven’t ‘left home’ yet, you need to! By ‘leaving home’ I don’t mean, leave the parental nest, I mean leave the country for a period of time to experience living in another country.

To become a global citizen you need to live in a foreign culture, or three. As an immigrant you experience being in the ‘out group’ and opposed to being in the ‘in group’. Once you ‘feel’ how a different culture works, not just ‘observe’ it on a holiday or a ‘fly-in, fly-out’ tour of your overseas branches, you will be significantly better equipped to manage a business comprising or serving people of many cultures.

Are you standing in the shoes of a global leader?

Whether your target market is local, regional or global, you can’t afford to think local. By that I mean, no matter where your customers are based, the issues that impact the world have a high degree of impact on buyers, suppliers and customers everywhere. Global warming impacts environmental conditions experienced by farming, tourism and energy sectors; internet and social media developments impacts how buyers in schools, businesses and governments prioritise their technology investments; and war and famine in third world nations impacts spending decisions in our defence, medical and volunteers sectors.

Down-under leaders would be wise to look outside the country more often. We are extremely independent and capable on our small island in the South Pacific, but the 21st century calls for new ways of thinking and working. No country can survive alone any more.

We need access to:
- higher growth markets to boost productivity of our people and industries
- skills and talent from other nations to help deliver innovation and margins 
- capital, science, and thought leadership that will help keep us ahead of the curve.

Are you ready to work in mixed cultural teams?

The top 10 cities in the world in 2025 by population are believed to be Shanghai, Karachi, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, New York, Kolkata, Dhaka, Delhi, Mumbai and Tokyo. It is likely that many of your staff and customers will originate from these countries as global mobility increases.

How well do you know these countries, their cultures and cities? Have you got language skills and cultural understanding to work with them and their people? How well developed is your global mindset? 

Of the top 20 richest cities in the world by 2025, nine will be in Asia and four will be in South America so it would be unwise to rely on historical ties to the West as enablers of growth in the 21st century. Leaders need to think and act globally to ensure business survival.

Managing Director 
growthcurv Pty Ltd

+61 421 861364

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