We’re living in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. The competitive environment is constantly changing and there are many factors to consider like: economic instability due to the global pandemic, rapid technological advancements with machine learning and artificial intelligence, climate change, political instability, social movements and Brexit. Many people are uncomfortable with change, so if your leaders are not agile, able to adapt at pace or lead change effectively, your business will not be future-fit. According to Fundera, 70% of small businesses fail within 10 years of trading and that number is only set to rise in the future. So, the question is, are you developing future-fit leaders?
Can your leaders identify and acknowledge their unconscious bias?
We all make decisions and form opinions based on set unconscious biases that we develop through our upbringing, culture, religious beliefs, life experiences and education. Our unconscious biases can be unhelpful and affect the way we see the world around us, which stops us from being objective and embracing change. Douglas Adams illustrated this brilliantly in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “When you’re born, anything in the world is normal. Anything invented before you’re 35 is revolutionary. Anything invented after you’re 35 is unnatural and wrong.”
Children have had less time to develop their set of biases and just accept the world as they see it, but as you age, you start to form strong opinions about how you think the world should be and this can kill agility. If your leaders are not able to identify and acknowledge their unconscious bias, they are not future-fit leaders. One way to help them develop this trait is through psychometric testing, 360 feedback and a blameless culture where people are encouraged to be honest about their weaknesses.
Do your leaders create a culture of collaboration?
Collaborative culture over individuals and interactions is one of the core values of the Future-Fit Manifesto. You can invent alone, but to innovate, you need collaboration between people with different skills to turn an idea into reality. If your people are still working in the traditional silos without much collaboration between teams, then your business is in danger of not being future-fit. Collaborative cultures also support better agility and less adversity to change because people from all areas of the business feel involved in creating the change instead of having change imposed on them from above. You can have the most innovative, agile strategy in place, but future-fit leaders understand that without building a collaborative, adaptable culture, even the best strategies will fail.
Do your leaders question “group think” and assumptions?
There is nothing more powerful than the question “Why?”. When leaders challenge their own popular-held beliefs and those of their colleagues, it starts a conversation and gets people thinking. It is a great way to develop creative and collaborative problem-solving skills and this supports greater innovation. Future-fit organisations must always look for new and better way of doing things to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and prepared for changes in the market.
Do your leaders nurture a blame-free learning culture?
Blame-free cultures come from the fields of aviation and health care where not admitting to or learning from failures can cost lives. When leaders create a safe environment where it is okay to reflect on mistakes or failures, the whole organisation will continue to learn and improve together. Businesses with a strong learning culture where the fear of failure is removed, will be more agile, adaptable and willing to take calculated risks to remain competitive and future fit.
Do your leaders engage with future scenario planning?
Future scenario planning is a process of identifying potential future events that might be opportunities or threats so that you can be proactive rather than reactive to change. The following matrix is a good tool to use to help you define your future scenario plans based on how likely and how much impact each future event will have on the business. It can be difficult to predict the future, but you can improve by following trends in other countries and reading and analysing business case studies to learn from others successes and failures.
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