Leon Theron

What is leadership? Who are the business leaders in 2019?

How are leaders performing in today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world?

Technological disruption is looming, political intervention threatens global business flows, millennials are an unknown entity, climate change is upon us and, in South Africa, business confidence is at an all-time low!

The famed author, John Maxwell, has coined a most-descriptive new term: “leadershift”. According to Maxwell, everything now moves faster than ever before, and change is the new constant. Therefore, innovative leadership must show the way. Leaders must stay flexible and adapt quickly to change. They must become adept amid uncertainty.  

Leadershifts are defined as dynamic directional changes that have a positive impact on your organisation and employees.

Global firm KornFerry recommends that business leaders in a VUCA environment must ADAPT, an acronym for:

  • Anticipate change, so that we can have clarity, even in ambiguity. We will experience failure and thus need to be resilient.
  • Drive is a crucial ingredient, so that leaders can energise people while transforming the business model. The modern leader needs to make employee lives better, not tougher.
  • Acceleration is key to maintaining pace with changing events. The need is to implement agile processes and understand that you may never reach perfection. Failure is OK.
  • Partnering is the new approach since a business need not always have sole ownership of everything.
  • Trust: indeed, how can the leader take employees into an uncertain future without a culture of complete trust?

The only sound advice to business leaders in South Africa is to embrace the initiative by the CEOs of 181 of the world’s largest companies — as part of the lobbying group called The Business Roundtable (BRT).

In September 2019, these 181 CEO’s declared that the purpose of a corporation is not just to serve shareholders (their official position since 1997), but to create value for all the stakeholders of your business. Please reflect on the real purpose of your business and then focus your energy accordingly.

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