I've come across a few articles lately which talk about leadership for the modern world. Some call it Lateral Leadership, others Enterprise Leadership – the ability to lead and influence, without authority, across increasingly complex organisations. The more I think about it, the more I think about the role of the Frontrunner, and how this unique capability is key.
Like most capabilities, if you’re not born with the natural talent, you can develop it as you go, as long as you know what ‘it’ is!. So here’s a starter for 10 on how anyone can futureproof their leadership skills, and maybe one day become a Frontrunner!
Why does leadership need to change its style?
Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock forever, you’ll have noticed that the world is changing! So is the world of business, and changing at a rate greater than ever before. Whatever aspect you want to look at – technology, information, communication, mobility – it’s all creating an increasingly complex and interconnected business environment.
Leaders therefore are facing new challenges. Challenges that maybe didn’t exist in the past:
So, what sort of leadership is required?
In 2004 Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp talked about Lateral Leadership as ‘getting things done when you are not the boss’, highlighting the need for a more collaborative leader, capable of getting the most out of a team over which they have no formal authority.
More recently, in 2015 The CEB talked about Enterprise Leadership, describing leaders who achieve not only their own objectives, but those of the organisation and others by leading across the organisational network. They do this by ‘give and take’ with their peers, pushing and pulling team contribution, and facilitating as opposed to directing change.
And Deloitte’s in their 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report - ‘Re-writing the rules for the digital age’ – talk about ‘leadership disrupted: pushing the boundaries’. To survive and thrive, leaders need to THINK, ACT and REACT differently – become more agile, more collaborative, more innovative and more brave.
At OBP – we call these leaders Frontrunners.
What does Frontrunning look like in action?
Like the name suggests, the role of the Frontrunner is a leadership role, even if you haven’t got your own team. A Frontrunner is someone who takes the lead, leads by example, walks the talk, champions the cause, and challenges the norms.
The Frontrunner asks for forgiveness not permission, brings energy and life to the conversation, and enables those around them to flourish with confidence.
Whilst the name and the concept is helpful, to get any good at it, you need to know the nuts and bolts – the skills and knowledge that makes someone a good Frontrunner.
So here’s my attempt at describing what the Frontrunner does, and what simple things anyone can do to improve his or her effectiveness.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
So if that’s what Frontrunners do, what do they need to be? Well, if we look deeply into the above, we may find that actually, some of the core foundational skills of being a Frontrunner, are the same as they have always been for being a good leader. And maybe as the world has become faster, and more digitally enabled, we’ve lost sight of what’s important.
The profile of a good Frontrunner looks something like this:
Self-aware – the ability to understand oneself, and all that comes with you
Organisationally savvy – the ability to understand the big picture and how to get things done
Emotionally intelligent – the ability to understand others, their emotions, and be empathetic.
Relationship builder – the ability to communicate and work with others, and establish long lasting trust
Connected – the ability to make powerful connections with others, both face to face and virtually
So if you want to future proof your leadership skills, these 5 core skills are probably a good place to start.
As someone wise once said – “Success is not predicting the future, it’s creating people who can thrive in a future that cannot be predicted.”
Frontrunners both thrive, and develop the ability to thrive in others.
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