The conference room at ProActive A/S (one of the three cases in the book) was filled with people, chatting and mingling and smiling, at the reception for the book launch in Copenhagen 23-Feb-2018. Here are a few pictures from the day, taken by Thomas Rønn.
Thank you so much to all that showed up and joined us in making it a fantastic day and milestone!
The book launch in London is 8 March:
Join us to celebrate the launch of The Responsive Leader:
Thursday 8 March
7pm – 8.30pm
Waterstones London – The Economist’s Bookshop
(Closest stations: Covent Garden, Holborn, & Temple)
If you would like to attend, please RSVP to:
The purpose of the book is to share my experiences, learning, models, codifications, and results, so that you can be inspired to try a new leadership style and philosophy that matches the requirements of the 21st century. My intention is to light the path for you, so you can find your own way without too much fumbling.
I will not provide a finished codex that you must follow dogmatically. This is not a reference book with all the answers about leadership in the 21st century.
The focus will be on the mindset you must have as a leader, and on the behaviour and practices that can support it. The book provides a platform and several methods that will help you to understand, get started and make it happen – that is, a variant of design-thinking.
You might find yourself conflicted between your old, auto-reactions and your new, adapted behaviour. The point of this book is to shed as much light on the mindset and the paradigm shift for you to master it, to illuminate the problem, and find a solution yourself.
What do people say? Where is the value?
“I have to say your book is outstanding. It’s easy to follow, and just makes it easy to understand the steps to becoming a better leader. Well done”
– Miranda Ash, WorldBlu
“Been waiting 5 years for this book ever since we first crossed each other’s path (…) I’ve literally followed the development from the very early days and I can highly recommend Erik’s new book for anyone searching for a hands-on guide to transform leadership and innovation. It’s a perfect mix of theory and practice.”
– Kasper Risbjerg, Danfoss
“How can I get 9 for my management team? (…) It’s well-written, and highly relevant, and I like that all the references are modern.”
– HR Director
My sincere hope is to help you understand the why, how, and what of responsive leadership. It requires that you are willing to invest the time. It requires patience. There is no quick fix. For some, a transformation can take six months before the new behaviour is well established. For others, it may take several years.
PS: Now on Kindle too
Several new leadership styles and organizational designs have emerged as a result of the paradigm shift and the global megatrends. Here are a few:
Responsive Org. describes different characteristics of organizations with five sliders, each spanning a spectrum of opposite characteristics, e.g. profit vs. purpose, hierarchies vs. networks, controlling vs. empowering, planning vs. experimentation, and privacy vs. transparency.
Holacracy is organization form without hierarchy, but is instead based on a self-organized and self-managed network, and mechanisms for solving problems.
WorldBlu and their “Freedom at Work” describes a philosophy for democratic organizations based on ten principles, leading to freedom, engagement, safety, and trust in the workplace:
- Purpose + Vision
- Dialogue + Listening
- Fairness + Dignity
- Individual + Collective
- Reflection + Evaluation.
This book describes the kind of leader that knows when to combine and incorporate these new leadership frameworks with the existing, old school style with deliberate care, to the benefit of customers, employees, and society: The Responsive Leader
This post is an excerpt from part II: “MODELS
The future of work is characterized simultaneously by an adjusted and holistic approach. An adjusted approach, because the paradigm shift is a fundamental change to how we think and act in the workplace. A holistic approach, because the elements of the modern workplace interlock and affect each other
By applying the five guiding principles of the future in the modern workplace, we specifically get the five areas of future of work:
- Purpose and direction
Say goodbye to the classic three-year, detail-oriented strategy.
Say hello to purpose and direction as a supplement, or even a replacement at times
- Innovation as usual
The new mantra is ‘challenge the status quo’. The consequence is ‘continuous innovation’ or ‘innovation as usual’.
If you are not developing or changing your organization, you are going to be left behind.
Innovation must be an everyday thought and mindset, and used on products, processes, AND leadership.
- Viscous culture
The culture must match the mindset. Freedom at work, inclusion, empowerment, trust, and engagement are in focus.
We measure it via social capital and the organizational network analysis
- Organizing for value
Organizing is a verb, not a noun. It’s something we do – not something we are – in order to stay relevant to both employees and customers.
We focus on what value we deliver to the customer, not on the product.
We focus on the networked organization, and transforming from command-and-control to team-of-teams.
- Responsive Leadership
The responsive leadership consists of new roles and new behaviour.
Most of all, it’s a balance between the old and new leadership styles.
This post is an excerpt from chapter 8: “Organizing for value”
The basic premise for engaging in new ways of organizing is to refocus the organizational energy.
The five guiding principles of future of work shows that the way groups evolve into collaborating teams is of immense importance for employees and customers:
- People first
- Purpose, meaning, sense-making, and value-creation
- Continuous innovation and experimentation
- An insatiable drive for results
- Everybody has the opportunity to take a lead.
The point is that you, as a leader, must be able to empower the team as much as needed, enabling them to self-organize and maybe even self-manage.
You have the responsibility for supporting the team in its ‘forming, storming, norming, and performing’ phases (Tuckman 1965), and for paying constant attention to the dynamics from personal development, shuffling resources, and on-boarding and off-boarding employees, as each of these interruptions requires new focus on team establishment and trust.
Amy C. Edmondson (Edmondson, 2012) uses a verification of team to describe what’s needed: “Teaming is something you do. It’s an activity.” This fits perfectly with the premise for this chapter: organizing is something you do.
A good way of doing this is to use situational leadership (Hersey and Blanchard, 1969) with the team, just as you would do with individual motivation. This team development must happen under strict and joint effort by the line managers and the management team.
The teams can evolve through several stages, touching upon aspects like self-organizing and self-management. The whole purpose of focusing on self-organizing, relationship, closeness, and engagement is to ensure employee wellbeing and engagement. This leads to adaptability and relevancy towards the customers, thereby increasing their loyalty. You play a vital role in this, ensuring that the team gets the right amount of direction, coaching, support, and delegation.
The more mature the team is, the less directive and supportive behaviour you need to apply. However, you can only stay in touch with the team members and the team development if you establish a feedback loop. That is, if you facilitate sessions of evaluation on individual and team level. This might happen on a weekly basis in the beginning, and after some months on monthly basis.
Situational leadership in teams is exactly that: situational.
The content of ‘The Responsive Leader’ is the step stone for content in other media. Here are some selected articles, that follows the theme of the book.
How modern leaders measure their success (article in Dialogue Review)
The modern leader measures success not only by results and revenue but also by the impact they have on employees and society. This kind of thinking is a revival of corporate social responsibility philosophies, but with an update on social capital and value creation – the introduction of ‘impact accounting’.
What is the place for modern, responsive leadership in 2018? (article at Vunela)
With the business world taking some hard turns these years, how do you embrace, adapt to, and shape your future? The answer lies in the mindset of the modern, responsive leader – and in actually changing behaviour.
Embrace the Paradigm Shift (article at EnSpirit Global)
Many organisations and leaders are trying to find their feet in the new paradigm. They need to be responsive to stay relevant to employees and to customers, and to adapt to a changing world. This situation is a huge possibility for rethinking and embracing work and leadership, and for addressing the development with a mindset of openness and experimentation: A positive and optimistic paradigm shift is emerging, putting engagement, relations, inclusion, freedom, and leadership in centre; both towards employees and customers.
We need a completely new approach to work. We need to be able to respond to the many rapid changes. We need new skills, new behaviours, and new systems. Most of all we need a new holistic mindset for handling a new type of workplace. Overall, we can see this shift as a focus from doing stuff to being someone.
A central element is the focus on creating value versus creating money. The more we look in the direction of abundance of products and results, the less interesting it is to focus on money as the goal. Money is a result, not a reason to exist (Simon Sinek, “Start With Why”, 2009). Instead we seek to create value for our employees, our customers, our community, and our society. This ‘value-creation’ is the new currency.
The design of our workplace, and our understanding of what constitutes ‘work’ must change too:
We will see a transformation in HR: in attitude, philosophy, structure, service offerings, and skillset. This will be the result of three things:
- We stop looking at humans as resources, but instead look at people and culture as a core of our approach to each other. Our employees are not production resources; they are human beings with personal lives, experiences, histories, and attitudes. They shape our culture, and thus who we are and how we do things.
- The line of business has for a long time looked outside the organization for support on strategic leadership and organizational development (OD). This is going to change. HR – or should we say People and Culture – will regain the position as vendors of leadership and OD.
- The automation shift makes it easier to outsource the more functional tasks in HR like candidate screening, profiling, legal support etc.
We will see a transformation in the amount of freedom in organizations, removing hierarchies and control, replacing it with networks, gig workers, trust, and freedom.
We will see a transformation in the work-job-task mix, with the entry of automation and software robots which can handle routine tasks and processes, enabling us to handle all the things that are exceptions to the rules.
Finally, we’ll see emerging organizations that are extremely visionary and ambitious, rooted in strong human values and focused on creating value for customers and society, while at the same time being very profitable. These organizations will not necessarily be large companies, since size and impact are not causal to each other.
The requirements for both management and organizations have evolved continuously during the last century, correlating with advancements in psychology, the arts, music, technology, the political landscape, and society.
It’s hard to put a finger on a specific time or event marking the change, but the driver and the cause of the development is often said to be technological advancement. The propagation of the internet and computers is one of the clearest vital signs of the change, since it has made global communication and access to knowledge easy.
In general, the speed of change in this development is constantly increasing and is called the ‘change of change’. In fact, we have never seen anything like it: We are looking into a future with constant change. MORE changes, RAPID changes, and PIVOTAL changes, in technology, information, and structures (Hamel, Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment, 2011).
Let’s look at some facts about organizations, leadership and employees in the modern workplace and in the future of work, in order to understand the importance of and the need for a paradigm shift.
One vital sign is low employee engagement. It has been thoroughly investigated and documented, for example by Gallup (Gallup, Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015, 2016), that 50-70% of the workforce is unengaged. This is an enormous number of employees and managers. Almost unanimously, the studies have found that work, to a certain degree, is meaningless, not fun, and without freedom. Some even report a fear at work, both due to the manager’s way of instilling anxiety and a culture of zero tolerance towards failure, and due to the fear of losing their job to a robot or a piece of software.
McKinsey reported (McKinsey, 2017) that 40% of our working hours are in scope for being automated or phased out over a 20-year period, with technology that already exists. In 2013, the University of Oxford made a list of 702 jobs and their probability for being ‘computerizable’ (Frey and Osborne, 2013): more than 300 of these had more than 80% probability for being automated.
In 2016, Bloch&Østergaard and DARE2 (Østergaard and Østergaard, 2016) conducted a study with 900 respondents in Denmark, the UK, and the US, which documented that only 18% of Danes believe it’s likely that their current job will be replaced by new technology (e.g. computers, robots, software). In the US, it was 30%. In the UK, 31%. So there is a significant cultural variation in the understanding, severity and focus of the issue.
It is also said that many of the jobs our children will have in the future are not invented yet (Aakerberg, 2016). And that, “Half a century ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. Now it’s less than 15 years and declining even further.” (Denning, 2011)
The World Economic Forum has predicted the top 10 skills to master in 2020 (A. Gray, 2016), which proposes a heavy blend of creative and innovative thinking, entrepreneurial problem solving, and emotional intelligence (EQ).
We’re facing some radical changes, but it is not all doom and gloom.
Despite the seemingly dystopic predictions of AI, automation and loss of jobs, these changes bring some exciting possibilities for replacing the existing management and organizational structures with something more modern and future-oriented. The development and progress make this the right time to stop and rethink our approach to work. This is an optimistic possibility.
This is where the paradigm shift enters the picture.
This is what this book is about.
Hamel, Gary. 2011. Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment. The University of Phoenix Distinguished Guest Video Lecture Series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aodjgkv65MM
Gallup. 2016. Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015. 13 January. http://bit.ly/200qU8Y
McKinsey. 2017. A future that works: The impact of automation in Denmark. McKinsey. April. http://bit.ly/2pso0QJ
Frey, Carl Benedikt, and Michael A. Osborne. 2013. The Future Of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs To Computerisation? University of Oxford, Oxford School of Economics.
Østergaard, Kris, and Erik Korsvik Østergaard. 2016. Does your co-worker want your boss to be a robot? DARE2 and Bloch&Østergaard. August. http://dare2.dk/future-of-work/
Aakerberg, Michelle Czajkowski. 2016. SCENARIO Magazine. SCENARIO. http://www.scenariomagazine.com/your-childrens-jobs-have-yetto-be-invented/
Denning, Steve. 2011. Peggy Noonan On Steve Jobs And Why Big Companies Die. Forbes. Nov. http://bit.ly/2xTD8L6
Gray, Alex. 2016. The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-needto-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/.