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Ronseal: it does exactly what it says on the tin. Familiar with the phrase? Well it has remarkably close resemblance to the role of a Leader in 2022.

The world is full of leadership wisdom but still the search continues for the perfect formula. There’s one thing the future guarantees: it’s full of possibilities.

So just for the next 7 minutes, forget about the details of someone else’s philosophy, and build an experimentation system that works for you.

The world of work is unpredictable. If recent social and political environments have shown us anything it’s that people want to find purpose, and act. Whether it’s tackling the overuse of plastics, or addressing the Gender Pay Gap, people are clear on what they want to impact.

If your purpose was clearly written on a tin of Ronseal, what would it say?

It must be relevant for the business you are leading, reflect where you are, right now, and relevant to the context you are working within.

How often do you hear and see others delivering it? Success in 2022 relies on everyone being extremely clear on what ‘we’ stand for and what ‘we’ believe.

Someone recently said to me “you’re on a crusade Chris”. She’s right. An extremely clear crusade; to help every individual find meaning in what they do, to bask in truly fulfilling work.

With vast possibilities, there’s a need to be responsive.

Being responsive requires clarity. Take a hiring decision: rather than using traditional job descriptions and hiring to what you believe, hire to what you need. Following the lessons from Agile, democratise the traditional team set up and hire for collective intelligence, not individual. You might not have an entrepreneur in the team but need it, hire one. Need a rebellious employee to complement the team? Hire one.

This means mixing different people together that will naturally like and dislike one another. As long as you’re honest upfront, you’re welcoming conflict and using people’s differences for a more positive outlook.

This requires you to create an inclusive environment and leverage diversity.

Diverse ages, beliefs, genders, cultural background; diverse everything. What you achieve is diversity in thinking. They’re in agile teams, with very defined ways of working, operating fluidly and unlocking expertise, learning from one another. They question everything but, at the same time, align to the same purpose. They drop perfectionism, because they accept that if they wait, nothing will get done.

So far you have created your clear purpose. You have created an agile system which enables you to be responsive and have a team so diverse, you’re left wondering which is more exciting, their collective intelligence, or the possibilities of the future.

Now to turn attention to the role of the Leader. Does a team of 2022 require what we might traditionally term as a Leader who directly or indirectly leads a team?

Our Leader is in a world of work where needs are always evolving, fluidity has replaced consistency and emotions are driving performance not just skill.

So, the Leader needs to:

1.Act as a facilitator, not controller. Staying true to their clear purpose and trust the diversity in thinking and expertise

2. Shift their traditional focus from judging employees by how much time they spend at work, to how they add value when they are. These employees demand more purpose and balance

3. Have an opposable mind; looking at possibilities to create opportunities, it is not down to a company policy or HR to create linear progression or experiences

4. Think about people in a much more holistic way, and the business in a more flexible one; they will have the capability to have personal conversations about life, rather than transactional ones.

So, it’s these factors and some further nuances:

What if there were ‘Leaders’ with no-one to lead?

What if we gave all employees the skills and behaviours to lead themselves? They’d be self-managing and there would be leaders at every level.

After all, individuals take full responsibility outside of work, why should this change when they’re working? What if you leveraged full responsibility of all individuals, and it was known as life, rather than grappling with “work-life” balance?

What skills and behaviours would they need to ensure it wasn’t chaos? Would they need anything at all?

What ingrained belief systems need to be challenged to realise this is more than possible? In fact, for many, this will be reality in 2022. Is your responsive system fast? Or will your nearest competitor catch you out? Fast is about getting ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk.

The world has changed in the last 10 years. It promises to accelerate at an exciting pace over the next 5. Has your Leadership changed at a consistent pace?

Frederic Laloux, in his book ‘Reinventing Organisations’, describes a need to shift from predict-and-control, to sense-and-respond. This lucrative world is where the very best talent will be.

There’s no formula, no linear path, definitely a few untrodden ones. Whichever you decide, it has to be clear and needs to deliver exactly what it says on the tin.

So, will you respond to create the Ronseal motto for you leading in the next stage of work?

Chris Furnell – Lead L&D Partner

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