Written by Clementina Mustapha
Executive Search Researcher
Why Leaders Must Inspire Learning
“When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally.”- Lao Tzu
Leaders want their teams to not only learn about the resources available to them, (technology, human capital – connections and networks, legislations, internal and external policies) but significantly, how to harness and use resources around them for the advancement and achievement of organisational goals. The ability to inspire teams should be one that comes naturally to a leader and if not, must be learned. Leadership must be inspirational, provoking learning because not only does the team learn, but the organisation progresses in ways that puts it a step ahead of the competition.
It is well to foster a knowledge based organisation, however, in a constantly changing environment, leaders must ensure that learning is targeted and relevant to stated objectives and helps the organisation along in its developmental or growth phases. It is important to note that an organisation’s future success depends on identifying and developing the next generation of its leaders. Managers are not only leading their units and departments, but are also nurturing the future leadership of the organisation.
Stages of Organisational Development and Control System
Considering the organisational growth above, it is important for organisations to target individuals for leadership positions who are not only academically qualified, but have proven track record of leadership in the current and developmental projections of the organisation.
Is a delegator most relevant at the initial phase? This for most start-ups is one of experiments, trials, iterations and creativity. A hands-on approach is vital in this phase, not only because of the need for the business idea and project to take root, but the need to safeguard initial investments is crucial at this stage. This is the phase that requires a nurturing of the business idea by the creator. Delegation may not be the core need of leadership at this phase.
As the organisation develops, number of employees grows, markets and customer base expand, the leadership needs change and it is the responsibility of management to ensure that line managers, middle management and executives are able to lead and steer the organisation in tandem with its phase and prevailing external socio-economic circumstances as well as internal organisational culture.
Ideas and propositions are not only products in today’s economy, but they are the bedrock upon which goods and services are created, leaders are not just saddled with the ultimate goal of testing and learning about them, they have the vital responsibility of deciding how the organisation is going to make progress in terms of creating a value proposition and business model that works and is geared toward achieving set goals.
Management must determine the specific leadership skills and behaviours needed to effectively implement and achieve the company’s strategy. Be it in the planning and execution of a merger, penetrating new global markets, increasing sales operations, introducing and implementing the use of technology in public services or delayering the corporate structure, the importance of time spent thinking through skills requirements to successfully execute identified initiative cannot be overemphasised.
The growing role of technologies such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are bringing decision-makers to cross-roads. This is true for both private and public sectors. To effectively respond to the demands of the 21st century, leaders in governments especially need to be agile and adaptable to seize the opportunities provided by digital transformation. They have to possess the ability to quickly choose between the different alternatives available, most times with inadequate information and high degrees of uncertainty, combined with public structures that are often bureaucratic, risk-adverse and hierarchical.
Identifying and employing top executives and leaders who recognise the significant and often dynamic role of technology and globalisation in today’s socio-economic environment is key to achieving organisational goals. A major requirement for the success of implementing any strategic objective in all sectors is the ability of leaders to inspire and encourage learning.
Responding to questions on leadership and how we target potential candidates for top management positions both in the public and private sectors, Duncan Gruselle who leads the Health Care and Public-Sector practice group at InterSearch Ireland responded that:
“targeting a global talent pool of relevant candidates is a scratch at the surface of identifying what clients need in their leaders. The ability to filter and target individuals who fit the organisational ambitions of our clients and who through their track records have shown that they can move the organisation along in its strategic journey is key to identifying desirable leadership for our clients. Determining best fit requires much more than having the qualifications, but showing an ability to align oneself with what the client organisation represents”.
Learning is key to knowledge and knowledge in this instance provides future leaders the opportunity to identify organisations and cultures that they aim to lead. Aspiring to lead must not be considered in isolation- identifying who (team/organisation), where(time/sector/location), what(objectives/goals) and how(style/culture) must form the basis upon which leadership aspirations is planned.
“A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.”— David R. Gergen