LEADERSHIP IN CONTEXT – The Coach’s View
The morale all over the world is low as a result of leadership disappointments experienced by the people. The leaders and people have lost each other. Even though the citizens of the world vote for the leaders, the leaders behave as if they are not accountable to the people. The civil movements that used to hold the leaders accountable are more than ever before, compromised. We are living in a fast changing world, dictated to by the new technologies. The Artificial Intelligence and 4th Industrial Revolution are the orders of the day. At the same time organizations, companies, communities, citizens and the countries are threatened by cyber crime. The governments are not investing enough in research to up the cyber security and develop experts to take cyber criminals head on. We require situational and proactive leadership that will function effectively in the digitalised world. That is the new leadership competence that the authors of leadership curriculum are slow to incorporate in the leadership development programmes.
We are experiencing emergence of new economic powers and more failing economies of the world. These failing economies cannot claim not to have known that they are on a downward spiral. Their leaders chose to be selfish and focused on personal interests at the expense of their citizens and countries. Now it is too late to reverse the trends. They opt for easy way out, and that is subjecting their countries to long-term debt that will burden many generations to come. That is how nations of the world have and continue to fail. From coaching perspective, the leaders must be trained and assisted in dealing with complex and fast changing context under which they are expected to lead, irrespective of the size of their organizations and/or countries.
The old tradition of resorting to development aid to resolve resources shortages in developing countries is now being rejected in favour of meaningful trade relationships. This is augmented by the desire to invest in local economic development to the benefit of the citizens of the regions in which businesses are operating. Whereas this appears to be the best solution to the local communities, some leaders see this as the opportunity to become economic participants in the enterprises in the name of the local communities. Corruption at the largest and sophisticated scale is on the rise. The foreign direct investors cannot ignore these local challenges. They cannot only focus on the profits and return on their investments. They must hold their local representatives to the same standards of governance, ethics and compliance applicable to all other representatives globally. We have seen great global brands being tarnished at local levels. There no longer small and negligible markets in the world. Digitalization and social media makes new travel at a lightning speed that brings share prices tumble like tons of bricks at world stock exchanges in seconds.
The emergence of protectionism is a confirmation that globalisation has failed in equalising trade between small and big nations. There are countries that took advantage of globalisation and developed export driven economies. Those that failed to keep manufacturing and research houses home now want to reverse the situation. This is not going to happen overnight. Countries have become so interdependent that some cannot exist on their own. There is a phenomenon of protectionists versus new reconfigured regional trade blocks initiatives. Countries are regrouping themselves regionally, looking for new friends to replace old formations. This is a new dynamic that every leader of an organization or country must understand. For us, students of leadership in context, there is nothing new. It is just a reconfiguration and the new complexity that must be understood. The leaders cannot afford to panic. They must stand up, walk tall and lead.
We are experiencing the reality of a degrading world environment as a result of global warming. The plundering of the world’s natural resources, its flora and fauna continues. New industries in response to environment degradation are emerging and those who woke up late are trying to fight it. New clean and green technologies are researched and are being pushed through. So, it is new vs legacy technologies contest. Once again countries that are proactive, like those who introduced export driven industries during the globalisation pick, will take the lead in introducing clean technology industries. Leaders are once again called in to lead the way by being futuristic in their leadership practices, especially those in emerging and developing economies.
The world’s traditional institutions appear to be failing in keeping the status quo. They are reactive to events of failed economies and states. The lessons for the leaders are that the leadership is about anticipating the future scenarios; applying realistic and strategic thinking in preparing their organizations and countries to cope with the uncertain future. This is done not for personal and selfish interests, but for the generations to come. Leaders must be preoccupied with achieving the nations’ destiny and leaving the legacy for the generations to come.