Disrupt your business!
Whether going after disruptive innovations that leapfrog competitors and customer expectations, or focusing on opportunities to create entirely new markets, the leadership issues are similar. Leaders must embrace ambiguity, live with uncertainty for long periods of time, and confront the critiques of naysayers both inside and outside of their organizations.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, summarized the essence of the leadership challenge when he said, “Any time you do something big, that’s disruptive, there will be critics… We are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.” Few business schools prepare leaders to live with being misunderstood or criticized, especially for extended periods of time. When it comes to leading for disruption, recognizing that “the soft stuff is the hard stuff” can make the difference between success and failure.
More and more leaders recognize that they must proactively disrupt, or risk being disrupted. But business-as-usual leadership, where big visions are followed by detailed roadmaps and action plans, do more than stifle disruptive innovation. They represent liabilities to success. Leading disruptive innovation involves adopting principles that fall outside the traditional training of managers and leaders.
New leadership competencies are required to navigate disruption. This means uncovering one’s deeper motivations to drive meaningful opportunities for others; pushing personal boundaries to challenge one’s own assumptions; taking steps into the unknown with the view that failure isn’t failure at all but rather a stepping stone to learning and progress; and tuning into surprises as a kind of portal for gaining new insights and uncovering opportunities. To lead disruptive innovation successfully requires that we disrupt the most fundamental mind-sets and behaviours that have led us to our current success.
Do you recognise that “the soft stuff is the hard stuff” and that it can make the difference between success and failure?
Extracts from a paper written by Soren Kaplan