Rethink Your Leadership – Tailor It

The fourth industrial revolution is a reality. The context in which we work is fast becoming infused with technology, constant change is the new normal and new forms of organizing are emerging. As a consequence, the need for leadership is stronger than ever. However, successful leadership is itself changing and new skills are needed.

Anne Pietikäinen, 18.10.2019

Aalto University’s research on the Future of Work has identified three superpowers that are crucial for the leadership of the future: the three S’s – Situational sensitivity, Storytelling, and Self-awareness.

Tailoring – match the leadership style with present situation

The first S, situational sensitivity, underlines the context sensitivity of leadership practice. Being able to identify the variety of contexts is a critical element of successful leadership. Understanding an organization's different cultures and, for example, different specific operating models will help a leader analyze what type of leadership might work best in a given situation.

Situational sensitivity, underlines the context sensitivity of leadership practice."

For instance, as customer needs and customer experience become more complex, it takes teams and cross-boundary collaboration to build value-adding products, attract customers, and achieve results. A brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another if there is no sensitivity to the context. This is especially true if you need to persuade and motivate peers and partners without the formal authority of direct line management.

Tailor your message and share a sense of purpose

The challenge for leaders is to create an inspiring future with a sense of purpose to motivate people not only within an organization but also in networks. This is why the second S, story-telling, is of such importance. A story and shared sense of purpose drives individuals to serve something larger than themselves and motivates them to adapt, contributing to their work.
Employees also want to feel trusted, supported, and accepted. They want to be included and respected for their uniqueness and diversity of thinking.

Tailor yourself as if you were an evening gown

To be able to influence others and make an impact creates a need for the third S, self-awareness, as the solid foundation on which to build. Self-awareness as a leader involves understanding your own feelings, beliefs, assumptions, and values. It is listening to your inner narrative and discovering your identity, the essence of who you are. In order to inspire and motivate others, you need first to be inspired yourself.

When we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and creative

When we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and creative, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. Being self-aware also contributes to being more sensitive to the ethical aspects of leadership. And we’re more effective leaders with more satisfied employees and profitable companies.
These three superpowers of future leadership – situational sensitivity, storytelling, and self-awareness – can be consciously cultivated and learned. The result is the capability to tailor your leadership to different contexts, inspire and motivate others – and be even more inspired about leadership yourself.

Anne Pietikäinen is Program Director in Aalto EE’s new program Tailored Leadership. The program invites you to develop the key leadership competencies of the future and offers world-class methods to first build a strong foundation of self-awareness. Tailored Leadership program utilizes also art-based methods to embrace emotions and coaching to enhance self-awareness and implement frameworks to link leadership to the future performance of the whole organization. Read more here.

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