Why is it important to embrace disruption?

In today’s business environment, change is a constant. From rapid technological innovations to continual mergers and acquisitions, disruption is evident all the time. To thrive despite that disruption, organizations are under pressure to work quickly and collaboratively with learning-agile leaders.

Leaders can’t just tolerate disruption — they must embrace all aspects of it. In a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world, innovation is essential.

Here are methods for embracing innovation within your leadership.

Map your leadership strategy according to your business strategy.

Have you identified the existing skills of your new leaders? Have you clarified what skills they need to develop in order to succeed in their new roles? Leaders at different levels of an organization face different challenges, but there are timeless competencies needed by leaders throughout an organization, regardless of role, industry, or location.

Step 1: Align investments in leadership development with business goals.

Consider the leadership gap when you’re creating strategies that require changes in the direction or capabilities of your organization. To set an effective leadership strategy, consider the number of leaders needed as well as the capabilities needed, the desired qualities of leaders, the preferred skills and behaviors, and the leadership culture that is in line with your strategy.

Make room for planning and substantial investment when considering your leadership strategy. And remember what you’re working toward with this process: Targeted, effective leadership development, as well as an organizational culture that reaches strategic success.

Step 2: Help senior leaders recognize when they’re unintentionally sabotaging innovation.

To ensure an organizational culture of learning agility, leaders can’t just say they want to have an innovative organization. They have to deliberately establish a leadership culture that strategically nurtures innovation. The key way to sabotage that innovative ideal is to subconsciously pull support away from new ideas.

Here are 9 signs a leader is sabotaging innovation:

  • They discourage creativity.
  • They don’t thoroughly evaluate creative ideas.
  • They push a top-down approach instead of a bottom-up “pull” approach that encourages everyone to contribute.
  • They force structure and hierarchy, instead of seeking a balance of creative types and realists.
  • They confine innovation to a single group, rather than expecting it throughout the organization.
  • They criticize first, discouraging new ideas.
  • They de-risk an innovative new idea, removing what’s innovative.
  • They reject ambiguity, instead of taking a chance on the unknowns.
  • They act like a know-it-all, rather than modeling humility and encouraging others to creatively solve organizational challenges.

How CCL Can Help

Sign your senior leaders up for Leading for Organizational Impact, which offers insight into leading within an organization while seeing challenges and opportunities through the eyes of others. A powerful, proven global business simulation is at the heart of the program and provides hands-on learning and skill practice.

Among other lessons, participants learn:

  • To balance tactical concerns with strategic priorities, improving decision-making,
  • To navigate the organization even with increasing leadership responsibilities, and
  • To work more effectively across boundaries, gaining new perspectives.

Best For: Executive and senior leaders who oversee functions, divisions, or business units in large organizations.

Discern the difference between high-potential and high-professional candidates. Develop them accordingly.

Step 1: Identify your high-potential talent.

Don’t confuse high potentials and high performers — this is especially a risk in technical organizations where subject matter expertise is highly valued. High-potential leaders have learning agility and are highly adaptable, while high performers may deliver a lot of value to an organization, but typically as narrow, functional specialists.

Conduct a talent diagnostic for your organization, department, or function and take a fresh look at your approach to top talent. Be sure to pay attention to how your organization treats learning-agile, high-potential leaders if you want to keep them engaged and motivated.

Step 2: Cultivate learning agility across your organization.

It’s not enough to succeed and make progress in traditional ways. Truly great leaders “future-proof” themselves by getting comfortable experimenting, accepting uncertainty, and generating new solutions. Learning agility is the core component of your organization’s strategy for creating future-ready leaders, because great leaders are great learners. You just need to identify and cultivate it.

Learning agility starts with seeking, especially developing an intentional willingness to be part of new and challenging situations that expand your experiences. From there comes sensemaking, or learning from experience through insight, and through asking questions like “Why?,” “How?,” and “Why Not?”

Learning-agile leaders go through a process of internalizing. Beyond their learning experience, they gather feedback and take time to reflect, taking in lessons for future recall and application. These leaders cultivate self-awareness and stay open to realistic thinking and new learning opportunities.

Application is the final move for these new leaders as they increase their agility. They complete their learning cycle by applying what they have learned to new and challenging circumstances.

Step 3: Provide vertical talent development.

Your HR department has probably already covered horizontal talent development through the sharing of knowledge, skills, and information. But what about vertical development? Vertical development is about more complex and sophisticated ways of thinking. It’s helping leaders develop new perspectives and leadership mindsets necessary for a successful business strategy.

Cultivate vertical development at your organization, particularly for your high potentials, with:

  • Heat experiences, helping them learn to acknowledge that a habitual way of thinking in a complex situation is inadequate, and a new way of thinking is critical;
  • Colliding perspectives through the exposure to different worldviews, opinions, backgrounds, and training to enable development; and
  • Elevated sensemaking, with the help of a process or a coach to integrate these perspectives and experiences, inviting them to have a more advanced worldview.

Step 4: Diversify your talent portfolio.

Take a fresh look at your talent and make sure you diversify, just as you would your financial portfolio. As you increase engagement and retention of all talent, don’t overlook freelancers, part-timers, and gig economy workers to position your organization to prosper in a state of constant change. By cultivating a diverse talent base, you will accelerate culture change within your organization and reduce vulnerability to shifts in the talent market.

Consider how best to attract, engage, and leverage short-term talent. You’ll create a more agile and adaptive workforce by taking a longer-term view of your talent portfolio.

How CCL Can Help

Get engaged with our holistic, Experience-Driven Talent Development approach, which directly aligns your talent approach with your business strategy. We make sure that experience — carefully designed and executed — becomes the core driver of learning in your organization.

We can help you use leadership to grow the people who can implement your business strategy.

Take advantage of:

  • A talent audit that corresponds with your business strategy;
  • Experience-driven talent management plan development and implementation; and
  • A second talent audit, quantifying progress and engagement.

The Big Picture

Welcoming innovation to your organization through learning agility opens the doors to ideas that can come from anywhere, from anyone.

Embrace innovation by:

  • Aligning investments in leadership development with business goals
  • Ensuring senior leaders don’t inadvertently sabotage innovation
  • Investing in learning agility
  • Providing vertical talent development
  • Facilitating a more diverse talent portfolio that leverages gig economy workers

Turn innovation into a core part of your organization’s mindset. Develop learning agility in your leaders to equip them to embrace disruption and start to pivot and change with the times.

Want to talk through it with us?

Our team of experts is here to help you develop the solution that works best for you and your organization.