GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: "A Seismic Leadership Shift is Needed Now by James H. Quigley co-author of As One: Individual Action, Collective Power."
Effective leadership has never been more important – or as necessary to our economic and political future. Our world has shifted and continues to change at a rapid pace.
The decisions we make now have an impact not only on the next business quarter or fiscal year, but into the next decade and beyond.
In order to successfully build a sustainable economy and nimble, adaptable and effectively managed organizations, we need to have a meaningful conversation about leadership. Gone are the days of being able to lean on a single leadership style to manage countries, global conglomerates and start-ups; we face tough economic circumstances, a multi-generational and rapidly diversifying workforce and a society that is rallying for social change. The dynamics of this new landscape call for a fresh look at leadership.
Leadership is Needed Now – More Than Ever
Some assert that our nation’s social contract – the relationship between those who lead and those who are led– is in flux.
Today’s workforce is empowered, interconnected and driven by personal goals and desires. Employees are just as likely to be loyal to ideas as to employers, and when they don’t find the opportunities they seek, they are willing to vote with their feet. The most recent Talent Edge 2020 report from Deloitte shows that just 35 percent of employees expect to remain with their current employer for the foreseeable future. In other words even in the current economic climate, nearly 2/3 of workers are looking for a new job, or at least considering it.
More broadly, we’re experiencing social unrest around soaring unemployment, perceived inequality and high volatility in our marketplace – allowing movements like Occupy Wall Street to take root and grow. Our society is advocating for corporations to change their behavior and for regulatory entities to take note.
Against this backdrop, it’s clear that leadership – for our world, nation, businesses and communities – is needed in ways it has never been needed before. We are in an era where leaders need to listen, care and lead in new ways.
An Era of Collective Leadership
This new view of leadership cannot rely solely on the traditional, top-down style – or for that matter, on more recent trends toward bottom-up, collaborative styles. Leadership today must be focused on creating the conditions where strong organizational behavior and culture can be developed and embraced. Whether in the political, societal or business sphere, these conditions empower groups to collectively succeed and achieve shared goals, and enable leaders to harness the full power of their organizations. When we work collectively – As One – we’re able to share the tremendous pressure of leading in today’s world and we’re empowered to unlock innovation in new ways.
During my work at Deloitte on the idea of collective leadership, more than 60 organizations stood out and exemplified collective behavior. However, this model of leadership needs to be discussed on a global societal scale as well. Our world is as much about cooperation as it is conflict, and as much about collaboration as competition. The ideas generated by our society are imperative to our future success and will move us forward during this transformation in our nation’s history. The time for accelerating this change and adopting collective behavior – working As One – is now.
James H. Quigley is the former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and currently a senior partner in its U.S. member firm. He is also co-author of As One: Individual Action, Collective Power (Portfolio, 2011).
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