Why It is Time for Leaders to Hold Up Mirrors and Future-Proof their Skills
The VUCA world. Most of us must have either been hearing about this or talking around. But what lays beyond that? Are we yet paying as much attention to the behavioural revolution that comes alongside the “4th industrial revolution’? Has the time really arrived for leaders to shield against all that Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity?
The markets are rapidly evolving, technology is challenging our ways of doing work, and, teams are diverse – through cultures, genders, age and hence, thought-processes, etc. If that gives you a chill that goes down your spine, you’re indeed in the right direction. However, there’s more that needs your attention.
As the VUCA world takes over, you need to very clearly identify how do you thrive without hiccups, challenge your fixed mindset, and within that, how you let go of your past and accept the new realities. AGREED?
A report titled ‘The Future of Jobs’ by the World Economic Forum has estimated that innovative technologies will create nearly 133 million new jobs by 2025. There will be many new and lucrative opportunities for professionals.
In the face of tech, these roles will pose greater challenges for existing leaders to re-look their long-endured skillset – which is hard to do away with. Something that strongly points towards cognitive biases — a fixed way of looking at things.
What Cognitive Biases Mean?
Leading Psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman defines cognitive biases as optical illusions– people think as they see. Biases are your prejudices, assumptions and personal preferences. There are several types of unconscious biases influencing our judgement and decision-making abilities.
FACTS AND INFORMATION
Biases – There is a huge difference between being an innovator and an imitator. Certain people gather ideas and facts only to look fancy.
Reality: Leaders must overcome fact and vision biases to step out of their comfort zone and take responsibility for innovation.
Biases –People have tend to seek information that confirms their own existing beliefs. Unfortunately, this bias kills objectivity.
Reality – No one likes to admit that they’re wrong.The act of being always right and proving the point can have a negative impact on their growth cycle.
Biases: This bias causes people to rely too heavily on their own point of view when they examine events in their life.
Reality: This bias can clog the emotional side of the mind and if ignored can cause dysfunctionality in the team and alienate people.
Biases: You notice flaws in others easily, we often fail to see yours. This can distort your perception of reality leading to faux decisions.
Reality: We consistently overlook what is actually happening and become too subjective. Self-awareness, followed by constructive feedback can help overcome.
What Do Cognitive Biases Look Like: We Asked Leaders
To delve deeper into the subject, we interviewed two prominent leaders with their experiences spanning more than two decades. Here’s an account:
We first talked to Laura Trivulzio, Marketing Director- EMEA at Jack Link,who has over 18 years of experience in the Food and Beverages Industry.
Next, we connected with Terry Dana, Group Vice President- West at Dean Foods, to learn through his experiences.
Asked what are the commonest biases leaders fall into, they both identified “resistance to change” as the pitfall.
“We have been as the generation of the manager when things were going much slower than they are going now. Things are different now.To thrive and succeed you need to unlearn what you learned in the past, and start to learn new things at a much faster pace.If you don’t that then you are going to struggle. Also, Gen Z is behaving completely differently than we used to behave so instead of getting annoyed and frustrated with them, we need to accept this as a new reality,” shares Laura.
Terry, added, “The transition from brick and mortar models to the virtual side of the business is a big challenge for leaders. The common bias would be resistance to change and how do you manage the change, how do you get the work accomplished and get the results that are high-level.The technical advancement has truly made people and process more effective. Therefore, you get better results and its crazy not to embrace that change. It’s about collaboration, collaborate effectively within the four walls of the company or virtual or with the machine.”
On the Solutions Part
Laura suggested, “Start loving ambiguity and uncertainty- A lot of time people reject ambiguity. As human beings, we don’t like it. But we are living in the VUCA world. If you don’t deal with these components,you are done. You need to be willing to live in a world that is ambiguous and uncertain.”
“A lot of listening and a lot of understanding where people are coming from, what they are trying to say to you, being an artful questionnaire and listen to what the person is really saying, and then go from there instead of having an agenda in mind – this is so important and a real talent, some people should work on who are early in their career,” Terry added.
Both these conversations point towards the cognitive biases in leaders, and how these need to be effectively addressed to ensure you thrive and lead with excellence ahead.
About Top Skills Necessary to Thrive in VUCA Environment, Both Said:
Ownership and Responsibility
How Leaders Can Overcome Biases for the Good: An Overview
Challenging biases need a framework approach. Once you identify them, it becomes imperative to master the ‘5 As’ as I call it – Awareness, Acceptance, Authenticity, Adaptability and Affability. These are to be understood in chronological order.
Awareness of yourself, your current reality vs perceived reality, your self-limiting beliefs and how they all might hinder your growth.
Accepting reality and moving forward without making any false assumptions. A complete acceptance allows you to engage in your current task so that you maximize your performance.
Drop the façade! This can be very draining. Understand the fact that we are all imperfectly perfect and that we all have blind areas. Master and leverage your existing strength and ‘be who you truly are’.
4.Adaptable and Agility:
Be flexible and adaptable, learn new skills, and cultivate a growth mindset. New skills will help you stay relevant, and help learn and grow. Machines are getting smarter and it is important for leaders to befriend machines and not fear.
Foster collaboration, develop and build meaningful relationships with employees and team. There’s a growing need to develop specialized skills for interactions and, we cannot do it alone.
To maximize success and thrive in this competitive landscape, leaders, as well as the workforce, need to operate at their highest potential by aligning their actions to their vision and identifying their leadership gaps. If you wish to learn more or understand how to go about the journey, connect with me: firstname.lastname@example.org