Disruptive Leadership: Preparing for 2022 and Beyond
Over the past year I’ve been honoured to work with great organizations on their leadership and strategy. Spoken to thousands of people on event platforms that while they keep getting better, still can’t replace that feeling of connecting with a live audience.
As I reflect on our work together, three themes emerged.
The first was how none of us will ever be the same after living through these times. The question now is how we will harness these changes – to do better, to be better. To be sure, a big part of our changes is the pandemic, but factor in the rise in of social justice, global warming, and environmental disasters as well – and we’ve entered a time of profound disruption. A time that has given us a gift to question what we stand for in ways we never had before. This means developing a much higher level of self-awareness and the effects of our actions on others.
How dedicated organizations have become in supporting their eco-system emerged as a second theme. The fragility of relationships came in to focus as company’s thought through how to support employees (and their families), customers, and vendors. For some it even meant supporting their competitors. Who would have thought that Boston Pizza would encourage their customers to order from small independent restaurants? This view of situating ourselves in the bigger picture means having a much more external focus and thinking about the greater good. It means finding more flexibility in ourselves and being ok with reversing decisions when evidence points us in a new direction.
It hit me that increasingly leaders will need to find ways to thrive in disruption. In 2021 we saw great examples of disruptive leaders: two of my favourite stories are Damian Warner winning gold in the decathlon Tokyo after months of training in a freezing, abandoned hockey arena in London, Ontario and Dr. Kati Kariko who dedicated 40 years of her life, ultimately helping to produce the first rRNA vaccine. Demoted and shuffled around, she stood by her beliefs at a time when many in the scientific community wouldn’t give her the time of day.
What can we learn from these spectacular stories of strength?
- Disruptive leaders are avid problem hunters.
- Disruptive leaders are obsessed with finding solutions.
- Disruptive leaders are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in.
So as 2021 closes and you enjoy a few days off, watch the snow fall gently, slowly outside of your window. Reflect on the year that was and what you will do differently. Inspire yourself to become more self-aware, more externally focussed and more disruptive. By doing this, you’ll not only enter 2022 more positively and with renewed energy but you’ll help others to do the same.