A leader is supposed to be out in front, pointing the way toward whatever is ahead.
But, as we begin a new decade, too many business leaders are facing backward rather than forward, says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.
“The future can’t be met with backward-thinking and old leadership methods that are no longer effective,” Konovalov says. “The leader’s duty is to open a door into the future for people and explain how things should be considered and managed in that new reality.”
“Leaders face more responsibilities and much higher expectations in terms of the execution of their roles,” he says. “The leader’s responsibilities are expanding enormously, demanding much stronger competencies and skills than before. Everyday learning and continuous improvement need to be the norm.”
As a result, Konovalov says the modern leader needs to combine meticulous planning with flexibility.
“Combining these attributes is necessary in an ever-changing and hyper-competitive market,” he says. “The wrong decisions and actions can lead to the whole organization losing sight of customer needs as well as quality, harming the long-term sustainability of the organization.
“Making the right decisions means thinking of more than the company. It means considering the values and needs of customers and employees as well.”
He suggests leaders assess where they are in their abilities so they can define areas where they need to improve.
To begin that assessment, Konovalov says leaders should ponder how they would answer the following seven questions. He offers a more detailed 38-question self-assessment on his website:
-What are the most typical mistakes from the past that hold you back from becoming an extraordinary leader?
-How clearly can you define your customers’ needs? Can you envision them as clearly as your personal needs?
-How do you care for your people as a leader?
-A strong culture is not about me, but about what I do for others. What do you and your colleagues do in terms of investing in others on a regular basis?
-What is your leadership style? Are you a leader who takes care of people or a boss taking care of yourself?
-What were the aims and results of the most recent changes implemented in your company, and what were the employees’ reactions to those changes?
-What lessons have you learned in the course of your leadership journey?
By answering these questions, Konovalov says, leaders can begin to gain insight into whether their leadership style is one that is pointed confidently toward the future, or one that’s stuck perilously in the past.
“Bad leaders build barriers for people,” Konovalov says. “Strong leaders build barriers to problems, accidents, and stagnation. We have more than enough mediocre or bad leaders. We need strong leaders for real progress and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate Superpower, Organisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.