A New Profile for Future Leaders

November 4th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Future - (3 Comments)

Leadership is a topic that continues to be of interest in the business world but also in government, particularly related to recent events around the world. Leadership should also be a relevant agenda item in your personal life. When thinking about leadership a number of questions come to mind:

  • What exactly is leadership as opposed to management?
  • Are leaders born or are they created? and
  • What does the profile of a future leader look like for the 21st Century?

Leadership is defined as the process involving social engagement that influences people to work together towards the achievement of a common objective or task. Leadership involves creating an environment that inspires and motivates people to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Conversely, management is defined as the process of planning, organising, resourcing, directing and controlling a set of activities in an organisation. Management activities could also be applied to managing yourself or your business.

The misconception that leaders are born not made continues to influence modern-day thinking. Many studies have shown that leaders are created through learning, mentoring and personal experience. Experience being a significant factor to creating a successful leader. A leader must also be able to gain the confidence, support and trust of their team or organisation.

The business environment is constantly changing with new pressures, challenges and opportunities. The current leaders in today’s business environment will need to evolve into the leaders of tomorrow. To adapt to the changing business environment a future leader will need to develop a new profile with the following characteristics:

Do you possess these characteristics to become a successful leader of the future?

Dr John Kapeleris

Did you like this? Share it:

If you engage in communication or negotiation with individuals or groups you generally spend about half your time listening. However, studies show that most people are poor listeners, who don’t retain much of what they hear.

Active listening is a communication technique that allows people to become better listeners through understanding, interpreting and evaluating what they hear. Anyone can become an active listener by practicing some basic techniques, as follows:

  1. Prepare in advance. Think about the points you want to make, and plan your conversation strategy and the questions in advance. Planning ahead frees your mind for listening.
  2. Hold your conversation. When you talk you don’t learn anything new. Be more interested in what the other person has to say. Encourage the other person to talk – the more they tell you about their needs or problems the better informed you are to respond or find a solution.
  3. Concentrate. Shut out all distractions. Close your ears to everything except the person to whom you are speaking. Focus on the key points of the discussion and lock them into your mind using memory triggers so that you can respond appropriately to each point. This is the most important component of active listening that always needs more practice and attention.
  4. Don’t interrupt. Hear the speaker out. Pause a second or two before you respond. Don’t be afraid of a moment of silence. It shows that you are thinking about what they said.
  5. Take notes. This will help you remember the important points. However, be selective. Trying to write everything down may cause you to miss important points.
  6. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something or you require further clarification then ask questions. This will also get the other party involved in the conversation. Also ask about their needs, problems and personal interests. People will open up about things that interest them.
  7. Don’t jump to conclusions. Avoid making assumptions about what the speaker is going to say, even if you have heard similar comments and complaints before. Treat every person as a unique individual.
  8. Visualise the person. If speaking to someone on the phone, try to picture the person. It’s easier to become interested in people if you can relate their words to a face.
  9. Use conversation cues. An occasional “Yes”, “I see” or “I understand” shows that you are paying attention and encourages people to keep talking.
  10. Listen between the lines. You can learn a great deal about the people and the central issue by the way they say things or the body language they display. Pay attention to emotions, not just words. Fear, frustration and enthusiasm can be easily detected in a person’s tone of voice, facial expression or body language.
  11. Practice, practice, practice.  Rehearse with family, friends and colleagues. Use everyday conversation as a tool for improving your skills.

The ability to listen actively will improve your communication skills through:

  • a better understanding of the central topic and issues,
  • reduced conflict,
  • improved concentration and memory retention;

thereby fostering better collaboration, and achieving desired outcomes.

Dr John Kapeleris

Did you like this? Share it:

Innovation has been identified as the last competitive advantage available to organizations in a turbulent and hyper-competitive global market. Therefore, a number of key drivers are needed to encourage and foster innovation in organizations, including:

1. Strategy for Innovation

A clear and articulated strategy for innovation must be developed and accepted to encourage innovation across the organization. Strategy development first requires an understanding of the business and its environment, and should involve stakeholder input to ensure buy-in across the organization. Innovative companies have a clear vision and core values that encourage the pursuit of organizational objectives, including innovation initiatives.

2. Innovation Leadership throughout the Organization

Commitment and support from top management is the cornerstone of successful innovation. Management influence is necessary to overcome the barriers to successful change, which innovators often encounter. Identifying “champions” in the organization to drive the innovation agenda can make a significant difference to innovation diffusion and adoption. Innovation champions can also provide the leadership required to stimulate innovation throughout the organization. Effective change management will ensure that improvements will be easily implemented. When top management is pro-active and becomes a catalyst for change, the organization has a better opportunity to adopt an innovative culture.

3. Culture and People

Establishing a culture that is conducive to innovation requires building a work environment where trust, open communication and teamwork are the norm. A team is capable of significant achievements because individual abilities can be pooled towards achieving a common objective. The use of cross-functional teams helps break down the barriers by transcending the existing organizational structure. An environment that encourages participation, learning and fun allows new ideas to be generated and improvements implemented. Harnessing the creativity of the workforce forms a critical component of an innovative culture. Therefore, professional development of employees should include skills development in creativity tools and techniques. Other characteristics of an innovative culture include, tolerance of ambiguity, challenging the status quo, asking “Why?” and not being afraid to speak your mind.

4. Tolerance of Risk

The innovation process generally has an element of risk since any change involves uncertainty. Some organizations are risk averse and usually struggle to become innovative. Organizations that incorporate a higher level of risk tolerance in their business processes are more successful in adopting an innovative climate. The downside of risk is failure. However, “failure is not built on success: success is built on failure”. Sagacious or calculated risk taking is therefore the preferred option, because this implies that outcomes, consequences and contingencies have been considered in advance.

5. Open Communication

The existence of free and open communication channels is favourable to innovation because it provides the opportunity for ideas and information to be relayed throughout the organization. It is also important that, in addition to vertical communication, an organization maintains lateral relationships between functional areas to break down any silos. Collaborative information technology solutions, such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Lotus Notes, encourage information sharing throughout the organization and provide a repository for knowledge and ideas.

6. Flexible Operating Structures

Establishing adaptive organizational structures, which are characterized as flat, organic and cross-functional, is a key characteristic of innovative organizations. For example, 3M is a large global company that operates small autonomous cross-functional business units to encourage innovation and participation. In an organic structure job definitions are flexible, and both vertical and lateral communication flows exist. Power and authority are generally shared across team members.

7. New Ideas and Opportunities

The continuous flow and capture of new ideas provides organizations with a source of new products and services, product improvements, and novel processes that contribute to the organization’s survival and growth. Creativity is therefore an important key driver of innovation by providing new ideas and new ways to solve organizational problems. Organizations also need to adopt a formal ideas management process to capture, develop, evaluate, protect and implement ideas and suggestions, which form the foundation of new opportunities that satisfy needs and wants in the market.

If  organizations and their leaders readily embrace the concepts of innovation and successfully implement innovation strategies and processes, they would have made the first steps towards achieving growth and sustainability in the hyper-competitive global arena. Creativity is a skillset that, despite popular belief, can actually be learnt and nurtured within an organization. Senior managers and leaders need to take responsibility to foster an internal culture that recognizes and supports creativity and innovation to ensure they sustain their competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Dr John Kapeleris

Did you like this? Share it:

One of the modern day personal development coaches and mentors, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones stated that “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read”. I wanted to expand on Charlie’s quote by stating that “Your future success will depend on the choices you make today – your thoughts, your attitude, the people you meet, the books you read, the plans you make and the actions you take!”

Learning is the foundation of a personal development program. Books can provide you with mental growth and the ability to learn from other people’s experiences.  They can also provide you with self-education where the learnings can be applied to your work and personal life.

I am a believer of establishing a professional development library and slowly building a wealth of knowledge for yourself and your family. The first step in starting your library is to write a list of the books you feel will make a difference to your self-education and personal development. If you cannot afford to establish your own professional development library then I would suggest you subscribe to your local public library.

Senior executives of successful corporations and high achievers generally read at least one book per month, while a proportion will read up to four books per month.

Following is my list of the top 10 books that would add value to your self-education or personal development program. I have focused my list on the proven classics but have also included some modern classics (for further information on each book click onto the title below):

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
  3. The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel
  4. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
  5. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles
  6. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  7. The Greatest Salesman in the World By Og Mandino
  8. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  9. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
  10. 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness by Jim Rohn

What would your reading list of the top 10 books look like? Go ahead – add your list as a comment.

Make it a great day!

Dr John Kapeleris

Did you like this? Share it:

It is no surprise that successful and productive people keep journals or notebooks that capture ideas, inspirations, thoughts and daily reflections. Notable people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison kept journals and notebooks to record their ideas, thoughts, observations and projects. The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci are well known, containing notes and illustrations of nature, art, science and anatomy. Leonardo’s journals also capture many of his ideas and inventions, but also reflect the character of the person.

Journals allow you to capture ideas and gather information into one location. Ideas can easily come and go, and the only way to remember these ideas is to record them in a journal as soon as they come to mind.  You can then review and work on these ideas at a later date.

I have been keeping journals for many years and have built excellent resources of information, knowledge and wisdom. My “Ideas Journal”, that I keep separately, contains ideas and thoughts that I have recorded since 1994, during the early days of my career. I also like to record notes, ideas and actions from the books I read and the seminars that I attend. Journals have the power to take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

The main type of  journal that I use to capture inspirations, thoughts and information is an A4 artist’s visual diary consisting of thick white sheets of paper bound in double wire, with a hard black plastic front cover and thick cardboard back cover. I prefer to use blank white paper to allow the free-flow of ideas and information. You may want to use a leather-bound journal or just a small simple notebook. Each person will have their own preference.

I take the journal with me everywhere I go in case I have an inspirational thought or idea that I can record immediately. I keep the journal by my bedside when I sleep, I take the journal with me to work, I have it next to me when I am on the computer or reading a book, and I take it with me when I travel or attend seminars. When I completely fill a journal I number and  label it, and then place it on my bookshelf.

What do I record in my journal?

  • Ideas, thoughts and inspirations
  • Interesting observations or experiences
  • Goals, objectives and action plans
  • Learning notes from reading books and attending seminars
  • Business opportunities
  • Names of contacts, leads and interesting people
  • Feelings and impressions
  • Achievements that I have accomplished
  • Interesting words, quotations, internet sites, references and book lists
  • Sketches, logos, brainstorms, mindmaps, inventions and dreams
  • Research topics and outcomes
  • Creative writing and poems
  • Recipes and wine label details
  • Travel experiences

Journals can also be used to manage projects and monitor progress of action plans.  I usually use a separate “Project Journal” to focus on one specific project. For example, when I started to learn about the internet and web publishing I got myself a notebook and labelled it “Internet Journal”. In the journal I recorded my self-education notes and learning journey about the internet. I also recorded website examples, log-in details, potential domain names and other notes. Other examples of project journals include an inventor’s journal or notebook, a travel journal, and a visual journal containing sketches or photographs.

Journal writing can be used to record your life journey. It has the potential to develop your inner self and become a channel of discovery and learning. It can also be a means of self expression or emotional relief. Journaling can also be fun and inspirational by recording creative writing, capturing sketches, brainstorming, solving problems, setting goals, developing action plans or just simply thinking on paper. In the current digital economy which is dominated by the computer keyboard, monitor and mouse it can sometimes be reassuring to grab an old style fountain pen and a page in a journal consisting of thick white paper that encourages us to express our inner creative human spirit!

Periodically you will need to review the ideas and information you capture in your journal. The ideas and information can be quite valuable for further reflection and implementation. Who knows; one of your ideas might be the next “blockbuster” product, service or business opportunity!

I look forward to reading your thoughts on journaling.

Dr John Kapeleris

Did you like this? Share it: