Monday, October 19, 2009

Curiosity, Clarity and Courage are Qualities Leaders need to Succeed in Today’s Complex Environment

In a time when the business environment is increasingly complex – ambiguity, interdependence and variety are all mixed together in a fast moving carousel - cutting edge leadership ability and organizational structure become increasingly important.

With this in mind, IMD organized an interactive seminar on October 12th together with the global construction firm Skanska at the company’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Professor Martha Maznevski led the discussion on “Leading for tomorrow – leadership in complexity”. From Skanska we were able to hear views from Johan Karlström, CEO, and Tor Krusell, EVP Human Resources.
(Follow the session in full by clicking on video clips 1,2 and 3).

Professor Maznevski shared her latest research findings and experiences with the audience and spoke about the risks global corporations face.

It is easy for companies to go too far in its ambitions to simplify and focus,” she said. “It is therefore important to also find ways to amplify and empower leaders within the organization and specifically to find a way to allow leaders to manage complexity themselves by creating opportunities to network and learn from each other internally.”

What qualities must leaders have to succeed today? Professor Maznevski said the following:

Clarity, Curiosity, and Courage. Leaders must be clear in their communication about the few things they simplify, and must be constantly curious about what other people are working on around them and what new ideas and possibilities are out there. They also need courage - dare to take the right decision even when they might not be 100 percent sure about their ability.”

Within Skanska we now have a clear picture of what type of leaders we want and need, said Krusell. It is about staying close to the core business and to work towards a strong performance culture while at the same time executing a humble leadership.

Krusell also spoke about how the cooperation with IMD had influenced the development of a new Skanska. “We decided to focus on leadership development about six years ago and we decided to work with IMD as one of our external partners due to the schools good reputation internationally. We have since then managed to increase our competence level, cooperation and network among leaders in the organization.”

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