Do You Belong to Most Ambitious Generation of Leaders Yet?
Got a New Team? Here’s how to avoid wasting time on storming & norming!
What is the number one skill for leaders today? Well, the answer may come as a surprise. It is not imagining the future of the organization, embracing AI, mastering hybrid working or connecting with a multi-generational workforce. Obviously, those are important, however given the level of busyness within our organizations and the proliferation of priorities projects and initiatives, there is another skill that tops the list. That is the ability to juggle multiple projects and priorities.
A New Image of Leadership
The image of the pensive executive at a chessboard once adorned the cover of strategy books and course brochures. It was the face of strategy for decades and still finds its way onto some book covers today (see below). However, it is increasingly out-of-touch with the reality of strategy and execution for today’s business leaders.
More reflective of the reality of strategy in today's fast-paced business environment is the juggling leader who has multiple priorities, projects and initiatives ‘up in the air’.
Today’s leaders must blend strategy with execution, being agile and responsive. Unlike the cerebral chess player, they have little time to ponder every move.
A clear picture is emerging of leadership in 2024. It has 3 parts:
An Obvious, but Overlooked Dependency
Ambitious organizations will inevitably have more priorities, projects and initiatives than available resources. One of the scarcest resources of all is leadership time and attention.
Delivering on the organization's ambitious strategies and initiatives depends on a key group of busy leaders to make it happen. But 8 out of 10 leaders say they are already juggling too many projects and initiatives. That is despite widespread attempts at consolidation.
The ability of leaders to juggle yet another ambitious project or initiative is emerging as a potential bottleneck or resource constraint on the realization of an organization's ambitious strategies and plans. It is an obvious, but widely overlooked dependency in respect of executing on strategy.
How Much Juggling?
Just how much juggling is going on? Well, leaders tell us they are involved in an average of transformation initiatives. That may sound manageable, until you realize that many of these initiatives could have 10 or more constituent projects.
Of itself, this transformational load could be consuming up to 242 hours of executive time in internal meetings every week and generating a staggering 780 extra emails!
A Dangerous Assumption
Previously, organizations could depend on leaders to make it happen no matter what.
But, data suggests that they may have been relying on leadership commitment and determination for too long. Thereby pushing many leaders close to burn out.
Today, 1 in 4 leaders say they are operating at peak levels of pressure.
In a related trend, 9 out of 10 leaders say some of their colleagues have reached a personal inflection point.
These colleagues are consulting their life compass, re-evaluating their ‘all-in' commitment to work and the sacrifices involved. They are asking themselves: ‘Why?
These executives are prime candidates for coaching, or their talents and skills could be lost.
Relying on Executive Sweat or Stress
The implications of so much executive juggling for delivering on the organization's strategic ambitions are clear.
Simply relying on more executive stress or sweat, won't be enough to make all these ambitious projects and initiatives happen.
The question is: What support do leaders and their teams need to keep on juggling, not just priorities and projects, but their professional and personal lives too?
Making Things Happen
Increasingly, leaders are asking: How to empower project teams to get more stuff done? Especially more strategic stuff.
How to push through internal procedures, politics and processes to get results with greater speed, agility, collaboration and innovation?
These challenges are indeed real, with data showing that organizations are operating at just over two thirds efficiency and collaborating at a slightly lower figure of 65% efficiency.
Naturally, these levels of organizational efficiency have an impact on the ability to get stuff done, especially the strategic stuff.
Moreover, there is a compounding effect – the busier people are, the more they are juggling then the less efficient they may be. That is because some of those areas that can boost efficiency get neglected. For example, when leaders are continually busy, three areas suffer:
- Managing stakeholders
- Developing their teams
- Investing in themselves
Empowering Teams to Get Stuff Done
Teams must be empowered to tackle the factors that are draining their time and efficiency, including internal reporting and approval processes, conflicting priorities, divergent internal stakeholders, functional silos, endless internal meetings, and so on.
If you are an ambitious leader who is juggling multiple priorities and projects, why not talk to us.
This insight emerged from strategic conversations with business leaders on the requirements of delivering today's performance & tomorrow's transformation. It is part of our most exciting research yet:
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