…or playing not to lose?”

This is a common question I ask all my clients at one point or another during our time working together. Whether they are a corporate leader over a business unit or division, a non-profit leader of an agency or association, an entrepreneur or small business owner or even a high school student leader, the intent of the question is always the same. Are they embracing risk or are they avoiding failure? Are they focused on the future or are they leaning too heavily on the past? The question usually comes up as the leader is struggling on some level to lead at the speed of business!

In my own experience working with leaders at all levels described above, there are five keys to success when leading oneself/a team/an organization in 21st Century business. Collectively these keys to success support a leadership mindset focused on setting relevant goals and achieving the desired results for sustainable success. They are:

  • Get Ready to Warp – It is not so much the leader’s ability to adapt that matters as much as the speed in which the leader is able to adapt in order to stay relevant. We cannot slow time, so the leader must learn to think faster to remain closer to the forefront of their respective industry!
  • Servant Leadership – The leader can only be as successful as the team they lead. Anything other than this philosophy towards the team and the leader begins the slow slide into irrelevance!
  • Cognitive Diversity – Relevant leadership lies in the leader’s attitude towards adaptive thinking. Success is in the diverse thinking of the team versus diverse demographics. A team that thinks differently will ultimately do differently!
  • Context, not Content – We operate in an information-rich, knowledge-poor business environment. How leaders apply their information to create knowledge-based decisions is more important than the sum total of the information they’ve accumulated!
  • Adaptive Culture – Sustainable success can only occur when the organization embraces adaptability as a cultural norm. The leader cannot possibly have all the answers to change, so creating a culture promoting ideas throughout the organization is paramount to sustainable success!

Each of these five keys to success are necessary to adapt at the speed of business and then some. Business is neither slowing down nor standing pat. It is accelerating as technology approaches the point of singularity. In an effort to further explore these keys to success, we will highlight each of them on these pages over the next five months. So strap in and enjoy the ride!

How are you playing to win as a 21st Century leader?

Lead Well!