Dr. Alison Maitland, Research & Product Director at Lane4, discusses 'Politically Virtuous’ and ‘Confidently Humble’ - two of the five key mindsets that are vital for leaders' future success.
From advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to economic power shifts and hyper-connection via social media, the business context in which leaders find themselves today is very different to that in which their predecessors operated. And, with company life expectancy shrinking, it’s clear that some are struggling to deliver sustainable performance.
A big part of this challenge is due to the fact that things that worked well in the past are no longer delivering results, and this new context requires leaders to think and act differently than they did before. In fact, a majority (79%) of c-suite leaders think that senior leaders in their organisations will have to adopt a different set of mindsets for their business to succeed in the future.
To uncover what these mindsets are, we spoke to a number of future-thinking leaders who have been recognised as innovators and disrupters. As part of these conversations, and through our research, we discovered five mindsets that are key for a leader’s future success. The two that I will focus on today are ‘Politically Virtuous’ and ‘Confidently Humble’.
Thankfully, the days when leaders could pretty much get away with anything (so long as it was legal) are long gone; and they are increasingly being held accountable for their actions by different parts of society. This means that in order to be successful, protect the reputation of their organisation and retain a strong employer brand, leaders have to act with strong moral values. However, our research found that doing the right thing isn’t always a straightforward choice for leaders, as what’s considered moral can depend on perspectives and priorities. So how can leaders get the balance right?
From our conversations with future-thinking leaders, we identified a number of key behaviours of a politically virtuous leader. These include:
Future-thinking leaders must also skilfully lead by being both confident and humble. While they should acknowledge that no man is an island (and they can’t achieve success on their own), they need to be able to inspire others to have confidence in them and their abilities. It may sound impossible to be both humble and confident at the same time, but in practice these two mindsets are quite complementary. Confidence is what prevents humility from slipping into insecurity, and humility prevents confidence from becoming arrogance.
The key behaviours of a confidently humble leader we identified included:
With new trends and developments emerging on a daily basis, leaders can no longer ‘subscribe’ to one leadership approach for life. Rather, future-thinking leaders need to skilfully develop a number of contradictory mindsets. In order to unlock these mindsets, and balance the tensions that exist within them, it’s crucial that leaders are constantly improving their own self-awareness and engage in honest self-reflection. Doing so will not just enable them to future-proof their own careers and drive business performance, but lead in a way that benefits their employees and the wider society too.
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