The organisations that newly-minted MBA’s enter today are very different from those of just a few years ago. They are less hierarchical and more networked; they rely on partners as much as employees to get work done; they are technologically-enabled in almost every facet of their operations; and they are continually challenged by their customers and competitors to innovate in everything they do.
Whether it’s a large corporation or a start-up, a government entity or a non-profit, organisations today need to be faster-moving, nimbler, and more geared for change if they want to survive. As evidence, look at the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company which has declined from 60-plus years in the 1950’s to about 17 years today.
But just because organisations have changed doesn’t mean that leadership is significantly different than it was in years, or decades, or centuries past. Sure, leaders need to move faster, think more globally, communicate more broadly, embrace technology more quickly, and challenge assumptions more frequently. But at its core, leadership is still the act of achieving significant positive impact by building an organisation of people working together towards a common goal. To do that, leaders need to master six ‘practices’ that have stood the test of time and are even more essential in the ‘new’ organisations of today. They are:
Ron Ashkenas (email@example.com) and Brook Manville (firstname.lastname@example.org) are the authors of the Harvard Business Review Leader’s Handbook: Make an Impact, Inspire Your Organization, and Get to the Next Level (Harvard Business Review Press, 2019). This article is based on their research for this book.
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