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Getting your organization ‘fit for the future’ should be every leader's top resolution
Getting fit in the new year isn’t just for individuals; organizations also need to ensure that they’re ‘fit for the future’ by reviewing their leadership practice, their culture and their structure and by creating a better way of working, according to Hemsley Fraser, the learning and organisational development specialist.
Dr Val Sedounik, Director of Business Solutions at Hemsley Fraser, said: “Today’s customers are more informed and more demanding than ever before, so if you don’t exceed their expectations or if you’re slow to respond, you’ll lose their business. Add often cumbersome business processes, excessive bureaucracy, outmoded leadership philosophies and a disempowered workforce into the mix and your business will struggle to survive. To succeed in the future, organizations will need to challenge their accepted way of working, unleash the capability of employees and enable people to collaborate and co-create solutions that will meet the needs of their current and future customers. Like personal fitness, organizational fitness should be a new year’s resolution.”
To effectively navigate organizations through complexity and adversity, Hemsley Fraser claims that leaders will need to shift their mental models from a heroic to a post-heroic leadership approach.
“Leaders have to understand that their role isn’t to tell people what to do,” said Dr Sedounik. “Instead of the heroic approach of leading from the front, they need a more collaborative approach that supports and encourages knowledge workers. 21st Century leadership is about setting the context - by helping employees make sense of a complex, fast-moving world - and breaking down information and ambiguity so that people have clarity about their direction, roles and accountabilities. Managers still have an important - but very different - role, as coordinators and connectors of knowledge workers, allocating resources and shifting priorities as required.”
The culture required in ‘fit for the future’ organizations must be customer-centric, where employees are passionate about their work, where communication is open and transparent and where the organization is mindful about its actions and social responsibilities.
The structure is likely to be decentralized and flexible, to support agile and innovative practice, co-creation and collaborative working, with interdisciplinary teams organized according to customer requirements.
Hemsley Fraser claims that taking incremental steps towards this aspirational ‘fit for the future’ state can lead to high performance, enhanced customer satisfaction and improved employee engagement.
“Organizations have to recognize that continuous transformation is an important survival strategy,” said Dr Sedounik. “The building blocks needed to support this are 21st Century leadership practice, a collaborative culture and a flexible and agile business structure. Ultimately, the biggest challenge in becoming ‘fit for the future’ will be persuading people at all levels to shift their own thinking, to see the bigger picture, and to step outside of their comfort zone to act differently.”