Global crises have been rocking the world for several years now, including the Corona pandemic, war, the energy crisis, and inflation. Executives must navigate an uncertain and unpredictable BANI world and require appropriate skills and mindsets. At first, the business world was characterized by crisis management and remote work, while later the focus was, and still is, on developing new business models and improving ways of working. All this requires different new skills and mindsets, executives cannot rest on their existing knowledge and toolset.
It is no longer enough to be good, not even being out of the box will get you further - the crises have made the box obsolete. New crises require new skills and a new mindset.
If you as a leader and manager want to set the course for a successful future despite all the uncertainties, you must focus on these 6 "must haves":
There is no more business as usual. Managers need to familiarize themselves with the topic of strategic foresight - because the next crisis is just around the corner. But, with the right know-how and fitting tools, they can prepare for it. Strategic foresight is about first imagining different possible scenarios for the future and then strategically shaping them. None of the scenarios will happen exactly as imagined, but having explored them in such a focused manner will help leaders to make flexible, efficient, and quick decisions, no matter what the future will bring exactly.
Resilience as a topic in leadership development has come to stay. By becoming more resilient we can not only weather crises but accept them as a part of life. This is what strategic business resilience is about and it’s important on both a personal and the corporate level. Before the pandemic, major crises occurred about once a decade. When the virus first hit, many were confident that we would be through with it within six months tops. In the meantime, we find ourselves living in constant crisis mode. Instead of a 100-meter sprint, we have to soldier on and run a marathon, while simultaneously proving ourselves in all the different disciplines of a decathlon.
We need to accept crises and change as a part of life. We learn to be resilient by acknowledging small steps towards success and accepting that things will never go back to the way they were. Focusing on one’s strength without drifting off into perfectionism can provide additional support in challenging times. Even in a decathlon, you don’t need to be perfect in all ten disciplines. It’s enough to focus on your strengths as you go from one task to the next.
In times of crises, people are inclined to panic, i.e., they are either paralyzed with shock or start scrambling around for a solution. When there are so many fires to put out, we tend to be easily distracted and overwhelmed. This makes the purpose of a company, which should also guide the company’s vision, all the more important. A purpose helps us see what the company is here for, it provides long-term guidance. It’s an important compass that helps us reevaluate entrepreneurial decisions and measures from time to time. This is also why purpose-driven leadership occupies a central role in executive education at the WU Executive Academy.
Self-leadership as a management skill is increasingly viewed as important. During BANI times, executives are required to exercise self-leadership, take responsibility and encourage their employees to do the same, and bravely walk the untrodden path. This will require empathy and intuition as well as a constructive way of dealing with emotions – one’s own just as much as those of others.
The WU Executive Academy has always striven to create safe spaces for their peers to share their knowledge. Such safe spaces and settings for collaborative learning, allowing participants to discuss topics, share tips and experiences, and start working together, are becoming ever more important. These virtual and physical spaces promote crowd intelligence, and everyone can take away valuable and practical insights.
New technological advancements, such as Web3 with its virtual metaverses or cryptotrends like NFTs also open up new business fields and opportunities. With the right further education measures, executives can tap into new knowledge, align these developments with their skill set, and make more viable business decisions. By weighing new business opportunities constructively against possible risks, they will leave the crisis mode behind and enter on a path to self-empowerment.
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