Leading Effectively in the 21st Century – What can we learn from Top Companies for Leaders?

Leading in the 21st century could not only rely on 20th century wisdom. The environment is changing. The new reality is that we are living in a VUCA environment – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

AON Hewitt did a study on Top Companies for Leaders® and find out that top companies have certain characteristics:

1. They have self-aware leaders  who understand their personal strength and weaknesses, and use this information to become more effective leaders of others.

2. Build resilience in their leaders through stretch experience, encouragement and support for taking risks.

3. Identify and build engaged leaders who connect strongly with their people, and the team to organization’s purpose and mission.

Human being are unique. All of us can’t have all the strength that we wish we had. Besides having diverse of background in terms of education, intellectual and cultural, by using tools like Colored Brain we can use the framework to understand ourselves and being aware of others. How we can manipulate our strength and delegate our weaknesses as a leader will determine our effectiveness as a leader.

Build resilience
Leaders are not perfect. They are not always right. They make mistakes. But the question is how fast can we bounce back when we make mistakes and learn from it. Listening to the story of successful leaders, there are always mistakes made by them that make them rebound and stand even taller than before. Mistakes are the best way to learn and innovation most of the time created by the mistakes that people make. Organizations need to encourage their leaders to take risks, to try new things and accept the notion of “failing fast.”

Engaged Leaders
Employee engagement is crucial when leading in VUCA environment. Effective leaders did not simply managing people, but they actively engaged with their people by touching their hearts and mind. To lead and sustain people, engagement is the key and leaders should be engaged at all levels across the organization. Research shows that most people leave a company because of their immediate superior. The inability to manage engagement among leaders and too much focusing on KPI can distract the disengage their subordinate, hence companies are losing talents. The challenge is to create an autonomy at the same time aligning with the overall organization’s objectives.

What can we learn from global Top Companies for Leaders?

The five recommendation to lead your organization like a Top Companies for Leaders are:

1.  Having visible CEO and BOD involvement
2.  Business strategy clearly aligned to talent strategy
3.  Comprehensiveness and depth of leadership and talent programs
4.  Leadership mindset matches today’s complex environment
5.  Leading with purpose

Source: Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders® Highlight report 2015

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