Leading In A Disruptive World

Nov 23, 2023 5 Min Read
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Riding The Waves of Change

They became an overnight sensation! 

When the world shut down in 2020, it became the go-to tool for remote work and virtual meetings. It’s user base skyrocketed to over 300 million in just a few months. 

This is the story of Zoom.

During the pandemic, Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom faced unprecedented challenges. He and his team addressed a number of issues, including security concerns and privacy breaches, resulting in Zoom emerging from the pandemic as a stronger and more resilient company. Eric Yuan's ability to quickly adapt to change, make sound decisions, and communicate effectively with his team helped Zoom stay ahead of the curve and emerge from the pandemic as a leader in its industry.

Zoom's story is a reminder that even in the most challenging and disruptive times, effective leadership can make a big difference. 

The Urgency of a Leader and Innovative Mindset

In challenging and disruptive times, there is a sense of urgency to solve problems. Problem solving leaders will take risks and try new things. This will lead to generation of new ideas and solutions.  

The element of urgency essentially creates a ripe environment for innovation. In such situations, leaders are more focused and motivated to look for solutions. The urgency of the situation also compels leaders to question current practices or norms and consider radical alternatives.

Pfizer's role in developing vaccines against the Covid-19 virus during the pandemic is one recent example. CEO Albert Bourla has been credited with creating a culture of innovation at Pfizer.

Here is how you can foster the culture of innovation in your organisation:-

  1. encourage experimentation,
  2. reward creativity, 
  3. provide resources for employees to pursue new ideas,
  4. encourage collaboration of people from different backgrounds and expertise, and
  5. create a safe environment for people to take risks and make decisions.

The Power of Habits

Agility and adaptability are key traits to have in an ever changing world. And this can mean breaking away from old habits and creating new habits. However, making major changes abruptly are difficult and are hard to sustain. 

James Clear in Atomic Habits suggests making small, consistent changes that can be integrated in our daily leadership practices. 

The success of a habit change depends very much on the following:-

  1. Using cues - leaders can use cues and triggers to their advantage by associating them with desired behaviours. For example – a leader who sees a team member struggle at work can offer assistance and guidance. By doing so leaders can develop a habit of coaching or mentoring.
  2. Making it attractive - communicate to your team the positive outcomes and advantages of adopting the desired habit. Emphasise how the habit can contribute to organisational success, enhanced well-being, or strengthened teamwork.
  3. Making it easy - simplify processes or procedures related to the desired habit, utilise technology to provide timely reminders and prompts about the desired habit, i.e schedule notifications or use pop-up messages.
  4. Creating a habit-friendly environment - leaders should create environments that encourages and reinforces positive habits. This could involve setting expectations, providing resources, and celebrating successes.

Remember to start small. Drastic changes lead to overwhelm and a greater likelihood to give up. Making small changes allows our bodies, minds, and habits to adapt gradually to the new behaviour and if we fail, view this exercise as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Read more:

Leadership, Habits and Ego

How Leaders Use Small Habits for Big Results

Leading High Performance Teams

Disruptive times can bring setbacks and uncertainties. They often bring complex set of challenges that require a wide range of expertise and perspectives. For this organisations need high-performance teams that possess the resilience and perseverance to weather storms, learn from mistakes, and maintain focus on long-term goals. In the face of adversity, high-performance teams bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive outlook.

LEGO faced several challenges in the early 2000s, including declining sales, increased competition from other toy companies, and a perception that its products were outdated. A new product development team was assembled consisting of talented designers, engineers, and marketers, and they had the freedom to experiment with new ideas. The team worked closely with LEGO's core customers, including children and adult fans, to get feedback on their ideas. The company made a remarkable comeback. This is a reminder that it is possible to achieve great things with the right team and the right mindset. 

Create a Culture of Reinvention to Stay Relevant

In the last few years we saw overnight successes of certain solutions and the demise of some. Organisations that have stood the test of time have succeeded for many reasons. Examples of such organisations are: 

  • Amazon: Amazon is known for its willingness to experiment with new ideas, such as its Amazon Go convenience stores and its drone delivery service.
  • Apple: Apple has a long history of innovation, dating back to its introduction of the Macintosh computer in the 1980s to its current smart phones, tablets, laptops - with powerful processors and cameras, smart watches and many more .
  • Netflix: Netflix has disrupted the traditional television industry with its streaming service, built on 3 basic pillars – employing high talented people, candour and no controls.
  • Google: Google is constantly innovating with new products and services, such as its self-driving cars and its artificial intelligence platform.

Discover: Nokia's Reinvention Was Emotionally Driven

The success of these organisations can be attributed to a number of factors, including:

  • A clear vision and mission: These organisations all have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve and how they plan to get there
  • A strong customer focus: These organisations are all customer-centric, constantly striving to improve their products and services to meet the evolving needs of their customers.
  • A commitment to innovation: These organisations are always looking for new ways to do things better and to create new products and services that meet the needs of their customers.
  • A willingness to take risks: These organisations are not afraid to try new things, even if they might fail. This willingness to take risks is essential for innovation.

Does your organisation have what it takes to reinvent itself in these disruptive times?

Global Leadership Summit

The upcoming Global Leadership Summit presents an invaluable opportunity for you to connect with industry experts, gain insights into emerging trends, and develop strategies to future-proof your organisation. This Summit happening on the 28th of November 2023, is co-organised by GLS Business and Leaderonomics with Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad as the strategic partner. Are you ready to learn from global thought leaders today? Sign up here.

You may like this too: Reinvention For A Disruptive Era

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Edited by: Meow Ee Chew

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Lead Editor leaderonomics.com

Kiran Tuljaram, the Lead Editor at Leaderonomics, brings a wealth of experience to her role. With a background as a trained lawyer, she dedicated nearly a decade to the banking industry before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey. Following her tenure as a Legal Manager at a bank, Kiran founded and successfully ran multiple businesses, including the establishment of her own fashion accessories label. Balancing her entrepreneurial endeavours, Kiran is also a devoted mother to three girls. Her varied background in banking, motherhood, employment, occasional social work, and managing director in her business has provided her with invaluable insights and a unique perspective on the critical importance of leadership within organisations.


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