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How can CEOs disrupt the status quo and create a new path?

How can CEOs disrupt the status quo and create a new path?

How can CEOs disrupt the status quo and create a new path?

Three essential skills for a leader: flexibility, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. (Pixels / Andrea Biacodio)

Over the past 20 years, we have seen the pace of innovation accelerate. The computer revolution and free trade movements have drawn many people into the global economy, creating powerful new economic flows.

However, the 1920s upended the economic logic of business as the global pandemic heralded our entry into the new decade. Moreover, the tensions caused by the pandemic have exposed the conglomeration of other disruptive forces that have been building for years—both radical advances in technology and innovation, as well as serious challenges to our economy, political stability, and climate.

In Saudi Arabia, 70% of senior executives believe the frequency of disruptive forces will continue unabated or even increase over the next two to three years, according to AlixPartners’ recently released Middle East Disruption Index.

So how do companies respond to disruption when the entire planet crashes overnight?

Building on the forces of change is the right way to go, especially taking the necessary and quick action before you lose the power to determine your own destiny. The overall environment may not be under anyone’s control, but how you react and how quickly you react.

The Saudi government is leading by example, responding by staying at the forefront of innovation, demonstrating speed, agility, foresight, and an action-oriented approach in defining and bringing Vision 2030 to life.

Effectively supporting this vision while simultaneously addressing the challenges of the disorder requires exceptional leadership and a culture of care. The latter, of course, is derived from the former. But what leadership capabilities are needed to transform an organization to cope with disruption and succeed?

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Bother yourself

Business leaders need to have the courage to walk away from tried-and-true but quickly falling apart business models, even when they seem challenging. They should question all assumptions and make the tough decisions now, because they will only become more painful with time.

It must be kept simple. The ability of individuals and the organization to focus on multiple priorities is limited, so they must chart the vision of disruption – and therefore disruption.

Stay fit digitally

Digital is not something we do. We must be who we are. Digital capability will soon be the foundation of all successful businesses everywhere. Like the cellular respiration of biological organisms, digital must enter the company’s metabolism. It cannot be something located in one department or outside the central organization, rather it is the cornerstone of the organization and the responsibility of all.

For companies to thrive, leaders need to focus on the business problem, not the technology. By focusing on a business problem, leaders can identify the technology support needed and build a manageable, scalable program with a measurable return on investment.

The future-proof workforce

These large companies or human capital programs need to start building the workforce that the company needs for what it has. And they need to think broadly across all areas of personnel — not just top managers or elite talent, but all talent. Various skills must be acquired in atypical settings with training programs tailored to the skills needed by the future company. Many of the jobs that need to be done have not been done before, so we can’t always expect to find experienced workers to fill roles.

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It’s time to harness the creative strengths of leadership teams while leveraging technology as a talented collaborator, not a substitute. Future employees will need to be increasingly digital and receive the tools and training needed to stay ahead of the game. A company’s workforce is its greatest asset. Investing to make them thrive will be key to getting through this disruption.

Need for speed

Leaders need to adopt an action mindset – plan less and do more. A solid disorder response plan that is implemented quickly and rigorously will consistently outperform a perfect, poorly executed plan. Leaders must learn to iterate and develop plans as they gain experience and knowledge. If something isn’t working, they should ask why, then troubleshoot and redirect.

the management of change

Three essential skills for a leader: flexibility, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. And it should start with CEOs—how they lead, the types of leaders they hire and promote, and the processes and results they reward. Then he needs to reach out to the leadership team and the rest of the organization.

In conclusion, leadership, by definition, requires followers. If leaders do not inspire and guide others through their journey, every transformation will fail.

The decade of 2020 is one full of promises, but that promise is anchored by the most turbulent expectations we’ve ever seen. Disruption winners are only those who embrace the new normal and who are truly disruptive.

• Gabriel Chahine is Director of the Middle East at AlixPartners.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Arab News

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