Steve Jobs famously said, “Here’s to the crazy ones . . . while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Michael Lurie, VP of Enterprise Solutions at The Ken Blanchard Companies, likes this quote because it speaks to the essence of what made Apple and many others into great companies. Interviewed in the June issue of Blanchard Ignite, Lurie explains that in today’s open-market environment we need agile, change ready organizations—and leaders.
As Lurie shares, “The leadership style that most people were trained in years ago—certainly leaders over 40—was designed to avoid and prevent disruption. What we have today is an environment where leaders need to embrace disruption, see the opportunities it presents, and step forward boldly to shape the future.”
New Leadership Capabilities Needed
To succeed in this evolving business environment, Lurie argues that leaders will need to develop and practice a fundamentally different set of capabilities. In the industrial economy’s traditional, capital-centered company model, “management” was largely about planning, directing, and controlling. In the future, Lurie believes leaders will need new mindsets and skills to become what he describes as catalysts, architects, and coaches.
Catalysts: In the old capital-centric view of the world, earning a return on that capital was the most important goal. Looking ahead, Lurie believes we’ll see a business environment where capital is neither scarce nor the most valuable resource. Instead, a company’s most valuable resources will be its human resources, and human resources—like human needs—are infinite.
As Lurie shares, “Rather than the value-capturing, capital-centered mindset of scarcity, competition, and collaboration, we need the exact opposite: a value-creating, people-centered mindset of abundance, collaboration, and evolution. This mindset is at the heart of transforming our traditional, capital-centered companies into agile, people-centered companies—and leaders today must catalyze that transformation through personally modeling, and engendering in everyone else, this value-creating mindset.”
Architects: Lurie also believes that leaders will need new approaches to the “hard” business skill sets of strategy, operations, and organization. As he explains, “Rather than focusing strategy on competitive advantage, leaders today need to focus on innovating new business models. They need to learn to execute strategy not as traditional operational planning and control but as a process of continuous evolution. And rather than sustaining siloed hierarchies, leaders need to learn how to design and operate a network organization, able to harness network effects and act as a value-creation multiplier.”
Coaches: Finally, Lurie believes that leaders will also need new approaches to their “soft” people-skill sets, whether at the level of individuals, teams, or the organization as a whole. They must become coaches, unleashing the full passion and potential of people throughout the organization by deeply understanding people, by recognizing and appreciating their talents, and by helping them work together effectively and collaboratively to create value for all.
As Lurie explains, “This begins with leaders developing a deep understanding of themselves and others, what each can contribute, and what each needs to succeed. Leaders need to develop enhanced capabilities in building diverse and inclusive teams, coaching and developing each member and the team as a whole, and facilitating individual and team performance. Leaders also need to develop capabilities in collaborating and influencing across the organization, leading change, and shaping culture.”
Unleash the Crazy Ones
The business environment is rapidly changing and the mindsets, skill sets, and behaviors that many leaders have spent years learning and refining are rapidly becoming irrelevant. Companies looking to succeed in the future need leaders who can build agile, people-centered companies. The leaders who build these capabilities will unleash the crazy ones—to create great, enduring enterprises that will survive and thrive.