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Business Consulting For The 21st Century Via A Holistic & Intelligent Approach

Become a better leader in less than 60 seconds

Consumed => “Rethink: A Litmus Test For 21st Century Leaders: What Am I Tracking?” by Steven Denning on Forbes.

If you aren’t already a believer in the statement of these two paragraphs (below) then this might be the most important 60 seconds of your business life so far in 2011.

In the 21st Century, leadership requires more agility. In effect, the epochal shift in power from seller to buyer in a rapidly changing marketplace means that the customer becomes the effective boss of the organization and of those doing the work. Controlling against plans, or tracking 5-8 variables, or monitoring interactions with employees amount to tracking the means to the organization’s goal, not the goal.

Instead the leader must be tracking achievement of the organization’s goal. In the 21st Century, that goal is clear and simple: delighting one’s customers. The leader’s role becomes that of an enabler rather than a controller. The leader enables those doing the work (knowledge workers) to deliver more value to customers sooner. Controlling against plans and interactions with employees are only relevant to the extent that these elements are contributing to the goal. The only thing that ultimately matters is whether the organization is achieving its goal: delighting the customers.

Do note,  it’s not just the leadership that must be agile. For success, the whole organization must be agile, engaged and willing to disrupt silos. The old top down, set it and forget, it’s not my job, etc. days are gone. Long gone!

I also left a comment…

Hi Steve – I wanted to stop and say the “The real goal of organizations” section is brilliant. The point about agility still needs to be highlighted. Thanks for summing it up so well.

That said, I am of the opinion that in order for this shift to happen there also needs to be a “retooling” of the workforce. While admittedly I am not intimately familiar with the history of business management, my impression has always been that the structure of the 20th century was as much a reflection of the characteristic of the human resources, as it was of the needs of the business.

That is, silos and one-dimensional job descriptions came about because they had to (given human nature and the talent available) not because any owner/leader wanted them to. For leadership to become agile, so must the entire workforce—not just the knowledge workers. We are no longer competing with our “peers” in our fishbowl but against players across the world. Yet education, flexibility and (dare I say) chutzpah continue to take a back seat in the USA’s lexicon.  And I’m not so sure our political and business leaders are prepared to deliver the not-so-good news.

IMHO, of course.

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