The concept of resilient leadership is of great significance in today’s world. The global pandemic has created unpredictability that has impacted virtually every field of industry and business. This has triggered a giant shift from tried-and-tested methods of management, to ones which are more aligned with the current demands of flexibility, dynamism, and adaptability. The ability to navigate through turbulent situations, adversities, and challenges in an organised and effective manner, and treat disruptive setbacks as temporary encumbrances rather than permanent situations including:
(a) sustaining energy level under pressure;
(b) adapting to volatile circumstances;
(c) enforcing effective communication mechanisms;
(d) promoting out-of-the-box approaches;
(e) converting feedback into improvement;
(f) undertaking calculated and decisive risks;
(g) focusing on overall group development; and
(h) weeding out dysfunctional and unproductive behaviours.
Dominance of Technology
Technology has impacted virtually every aspect of modern organisation. Modern leaders are now tasked with the dual responsibility of effectively managing people and simultaneously incorporating technology within the broad operations of the organisation.
The success of organisations has come to be defined by the efficacy with which it can leap from a people-oriented approach to an automation-driven outlook. The collective experience has been that any resistance to technology will ordinarily be met with largely unfavourable consequences. For example – “Emergence of the work-from-home trend” – before the pandemic, many organisations were dismissive of the role that technology can play in the workplace. Now, no organisation has been spared from exposure to tech-based methods of working. Several organisations are now contemplating the possibility of incorporating the work-from-home model even in the post-COVID economy because of the many benefits it offers in terms of convenience, cost-savings, and environmental sustainability.
Power of Data
In the current age of information, data has become the new currency of effective leadership. Organisations are now realising the power of data and focusing their efforts on devising unique methods of data utilisation.
With almost unrestricted access to data and the ability to engage in professional analytics, there has emerged an environment that is conducive to using data in an organised and strategic manner. Through data, organisations are now broaching unexplored questions and coming up with innovative solutions. The real challenge that has emerged is the management of complex and voluminous data inflows and outflows. This has necessitated the formulation of efficient data management strategies that not only meet the current needs of the organisation but also account for potential future crises.
Resultantly, there has been a change in the outlook of the modern organisation, in terms of greater focus on understanding data and information. Leadership has now come to be increasingly influenced by the need to gain a succinct understanding of how data can influence the performance and output of an organisation. Example: “How data has changed retailing” – prior to the emergence of e-commerce, sellers in physical stores were able to track which goods sold and which did not. That was the extent of their exercise over data. However, as soon as shopping shifted to the online medium, the understanding of consumer trends grew drastically. Online sellers could not only track what customers bought, but also what else they looked at, how they navigated through the website, and how much they were influenced by promotions, reviews, etc. Soon after, e-commerce giants began developing algorithms for predicting consumer behaviour and enhancing sales. This underscores the power of data in bringing about structural changes in the prevailing market conditions.
The Growing Potential of Innovation
Another significant trend that has come to define how we measure the success of modern leadership is innovation. The greatest leaders of all time are remembered for their unique ideas, methods, discoveries, and inventions, and innovation is the driving force behind all of them.
While the concept of innovation is usually associated with the idea of “originality”, more often than not, innovation is the simple ability to see change as an opportunity and not as a threat. Innovation can create long-lasting benefits for the organisation and allow them to surpass ordinary performance thresholds.
Most organisations now have a formal methodology for product or process innovation, and many are investing huge amounts of money in creating R&D departments that explore the various dimensions of innovation. Example: “Peter Drucker’s concept of business x-ray” – Peter Drucker, in answering the question of “how do we know when it is time for the next new thing”, introduced the idea of a ‘business x-ray’, i.e. a tool for determining innovation strategies. Organisations use the x-ray to evaluate the life cycles of their existing offerings. Thereafter, they identify the gap between the expected future performance of those offerings and the larger organisational goals. Finally, they fill that gap with innovation. Peter Drucker said that innovation must be large enough to fill that gap and timely enough to fill it before it becomes obsolete.
Although the notion of resilient leadership is not novel, it has begun to be seen in a new light. Earlier, it was an abstract concept that played a passive role in organisational success. However, currently, the professional environment in which organisations operate is changing at an unprecedented speed, and resilient leadership lies at the heart of effectively coping with this fast-paced change.
Within the broad framework of resilient leadership, professionals can take specific tactical steps to elevate their response to a particular situation, thereby countering its negative impact and helping their organisations emerge stronger. With the right approach to resilient leadership, every crisis can become an opportunity for improvement and value-addition.
By: Samridhhi Mandawat