Wisdom//

How to Lead Through Disruption

In the world we’re in, “staying the course” just won’t do.


“The frequency, depth, and abruptness of change in the world today means that you will be frequently shaping and reshaping your business so that it fits with the ever-changing landscape in a way that delivers your moneymaking aspirations.” — Ram Charan

The old model of leadership often revolved around being able to “stay the course through adversity.” In the age of disruption we’re living in, it’s time to update that model. We need leaders who are far more adaptable and know when to quit earlier rather than staying the course.

This is not to say that we need less committed leaders, but, rather, that committing to a strategic vision and position is different than sticking to a course of action. Leading through disruption requires a much keener perception of small changes that might be the signal for big changes and acting faster.

This change in leadership is like the difference between leading a team across plains and leading them across a frozen lake. The journey across the plains will be arduous and will require a tenacity, vision, and forward-planning and it’s counter-productive to continually be changing courses and back-tracking. You need a leader with the “stay the course” mindset for this type of journey.

The current business landscape is much closer to a frozen lake, though. Urging your team to continue at the same rate in the same direction when you see a crack emerging in front of you spells doom for the entire team and mission. At the same time, remaining in place can be just as precarious.

The business leaders who will continue to flourish in this century are the ones who will be able to drive their teams across the ice, embracing the fact that they don’t actually know what the right course of action is at any given moment, but they are moving their team forward anyway. Markets are changing faster, business practices are changing as soon as they surface, and more competitors are entering the market better equipped than they ever have been. How most of our businesses will look in five years is unimaginable, and not just because the ice is melting or changing — the lake itself is changing.

In the world we’re in, “staying the course” just won’t do. Flexibility, observation, and fast communication and coordination are the tools of the successful executive.

How are you embracing these tools in yourself and what are you doing to enable your budding leaders to navigate across the frozen lake your organization is on?


Charlie Gilkey is an author, business advisor, and podcaster who teaches people how to start finishing what matters most. Click here to get more tools that’ll help you be a productive, flourishing co-creator of a better tomorrow.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com

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