Change happens all the time, and faster than ever in the business world.
The average age of an S&P 500 company was 60 years in the 1950s, but is now under 20 years, according to Credit Suisse. Technology and its accompanying disruption is a major cause of this.
How can leaders respond to such unpredictable change and technology? They need:
Brainpower to make sense of what they see at a high level,
Influence-based leadership abilities to get others on board with change,
Motivation to change,
Managing one’s motivation and focus over time for persistence,
But none of these work without the ability to learn – and learn fast!
The ability to learn is the keystone of executive potential, and that helps make the best use of the other four. One can be brilliant but still not take on new information, or motivated without insight, or influence people to do the same thing. What do we mean by learning? It is not just absorbing information: it is accepting ideas that may differ from your own, and using them. Ask for insight from knowledgeable people, and trust it. Many people seem to think that asking for help makes them look stupid, but in fact it impresses people more.
The challenge is getting trustworthy information when people may be either reluctant or even unqualified to provide the information you need for your level of leadership.
The solution: intensive, immersive learning from those out on the leading edge, and ideally in diverse groups of peers who add insight and support from similar but different perspectives.