Leading in this time is more of an expedition than logistics
Change produces huge amounts of uncertainty. And, if people hate something other than a common decision, then uncertainty.
Some people tolerate uncertainty better. Others even understand it as a necessary intermediate step before reorganizing things. But as a rule, uncertainty is a negative state of being. From the point of view of organizations, there is no shortage of uncertainty right now. It would not have required a pandemic to instill uncertainty. The current transition of time would have adequately completed the task.
In the transition phase, best practices are usually thrown out the window. At the same time, the credibility of leaders is experiencing a blow. When management’s knowledge of the future can no longer be relied on, credibility also begins to disappear from the range of means by which the future has traditionally been traveled. If in the past the management of a company knew how to tell the staff where they are now, where to go next and how to get to their destination, now the credibility of that knowledge is often low. It has been characteristic of this time that managers have begun to publicly acknowledge what their staff has known in the past: they do not know exactly what kind of companies (if the company is now the best form of generating value now) will succeed in the future.
Security has become a rare asset.
Security has become a rare asset. It is now popular to admit that management simply does not know. The gesture is, of course, correct, but it does not remove the fact that ignorance creates more uncertainty. I suspect that managers and supervisors are currently producing a record low sense of security. The outlook is increasingly vague, and what could be talked about with certainty, i.e. money, is hollow in terms of value from the staff’s point of view. The old logic of leadership has been scrapped and has not been replaced by a new way of thinking or structure that increases the sense of security in the organization.
Instead of clear job descriptions and goals, we have received headline-level talk about ecosystems, agility, and innovation. We talk about self-direction, and we blissfully forget that very few people end up self-directed.
Many will probably accept and recognize that the idea behind knowing behind leadership no longer works. The idea of research would fit well into that paradigm vacuum. In other words, management and supervisors lead learning rather than accomplishments and create structures, patterns of action, and a culture where it is possible. Described a little more practically, that research involves looking for valuable problems across the organization and promising to solve them without the explicit consent of management and supervisor. That is, practicing critical thinking in relation to current thinking and mode of action; increasing social intelligence at the organizational level by creating models that structurally and culturally increase the sense of psychological security; and models and practices, In particular, it is the job of management and supervisors to work on meanings. They are found for employees in the work itself (e.g., job suction), in the rationality of work in relation to one’s own goals, or in the world around us, and in the greater good that work seeks.
Over the next few years, we will explore and learn how to restore a sense of relevance to the workplace
When the pandemic ends, the big questions are still on the table. There is a long list of uncertainties. Over the next few years, we will explore and learn how to restore a sense of relevance to the workplace as the pandemic revealed that most work tasks are completely irrelevant to any more meaningful review of life. In the years to come, we will explore in work communities how business is done in a world where the transformation from atoms to bits confuses geography, time, earning logic, and industries; what it is like to be human in working life where machines are co-workers and how to move from money and human focus to planetary thinking and still make good business.
As the underlying idea of leadership is turned from knowledge to research, certainty is now beginning to replace uncertainty in a slightly different way. One begins to trust the process of research and learning, realizing that it is not only a job description, it also produces a daily experience that in a chaotic and extremely fast world, can deeply impact things. Exploring and learning are both in touch with the world where uncertainty lives. The work responds to the challenges of the world around us and rewards us daily through discoveries and learning experiences. It seems that we are strongly connected and experience positive experiences at work when learning is at the heart of the work we do.
Leadership in this time is more of a discovery trip than logistics.
About the Author:
Henri Hyppönen is Finlabs Chief Innovation Officer and resident inspirational leader. At Finlabs, he leads innovation across the organization to push the limits of our team and to educate and enlighten clients on where to drive their business and products.
Henri speaks regularly about the future, business, leadership, creativity, and the intersection of human and machine intelligence. He has published five books. The most recent (2020) on the future of creativity.
Henri inspires us every day at Finlabs with his ideas and insights. If you’d like to learn more from Henri and discover how Finlabs can work with you to build intelligent digital products to drive your businesses forward with purpose, drop us a line.