Covid-19: After “The Great Disruption” do businesses have the right leaders in place for our new context?

Covid-19: After “The Great Disruption” do businesses have the right leaders in place for our new context?

For as long as any of us care to remember we have been chasing the holy grail of a business that disrupts an industry or sector. To find the Uber for Laundry, AirBnB but with cars.  If not that then at the very least we have been looking for ways to accelerate and scale our business transformations, be more agile, wipe away outdated practices, create better, adaptive business models that can grow and thrive in the 21st Century. After trying to create “disruption” internally for so long, it was something of a rude awakening when the biggest single disruptive force of the century so far came from outside.

Overnight (well in the last six months) our context has changed entirely, and this got us thinking about whether the leaders we need in our business now are the same as the ones that we started looking for 6 months ago (like many organisations Chemistry has paused most recruitment, but has some leadership roles it needs to fill to stay on track). Now more than ever it is vitally important to ensure that you are choosing the right leaders for your current business context.

Through our work with James Allen & Bain around understanding “scale Insurgency”and Micro-Battles™ we identified that people, broadly speaking, fall into three communities. Disruptors, Scalers and Executors.  You can watch (or read) James talking about the different groups in more depth here but in summary they are:

  • Disruptors – those generating new or innovative ideas
  • Scalers – people who “industrialise” innovation into new practices and process
  • Executors – the people who turn ideas into business results

Or to put it another way (and we are paraphrasing here) if Executors are asking “what do I need to be doing” and Disruptors are asking “why are we doing this, is there a better way?” Scalers are opening a conversation with questions like  “Which of these ideas is the right one and how do I turn it into something that makes sense for the Execution Community”.

Given the seismic global events of the last six months many companies from Walgreens Boots to HSBC have announced that they are instigating or accelerating transformation plans. It is likely that this external disruption has been seized upon by the Disruptors in organisations.  They will have embraced change, innovated, continually pumped out new ideas about new ways of working.

It is also a fair assumption that the Execution communities feel a little adrift in many cases. Things changed overnight without design.  Creating a rapid, largely improvised set of working practices and playbooks retrofitted to the current situation on the fly.  It is also a fair assumption that the benefits of any new practices and mindsets have yet to be scaled effectively across organisations.

So, at Chemistry we would hazard a guess that if you are looking for leaders in your organisation right now, you may well be looking for those harder to spot Scalers in key positions.

Of course, people don’t fit neatly into just three categories, and these three broad communities overlap.  For each executive leadership role there will be a clear set of criteria that the best candidate will have to meet in order to perform in the role and we are here to help you define and refine them.  Given the seismic changes of recent months, the leaders you should be looking for now are unlikely to look the same as they did 6 months ago.  By working with us on Executive Selection we can help you to give people the opportunity to be truly brilliant within your business.

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