A new renaissance in leading change at the most disruptive time in history

We need to seek answers that are not the status quo or at least go beyond the status quo when it comes to leading changeLast January, we talked about the three biggest disrupters of our time: technology, UN sustainability goals, and societal shifts. These three disrupters have put us at a cultural crossroads we have not experienced for 100 years. As a result, we need to think differently when it comes to decisions about leading change. The world will not look, feel or be the same in 10 years time – we will not interact and live the same as we do now. The world will be very very different. According to Dex Hunter Torricke, “The next 10 years are going to be the most disruptive we have ever experienced.”

Now exactly how different and what that difference will mean for us, we don’t know. Which is why we need to actually think and approach life, including the workplace, very differently. Torricke proposes that we are approaching a new renaissance and this requires renaissance leadership and I think he may be right because we can’t continue doing what we have always done. We need to seek answers that are not the status quo or at least go beyond the status quo. We need to look at alternatives, other possibilities. Ask the question, “how else could this be done?”

But what is renaissance leadership and how do we do it? An amalgamation of the definitions are a person who seeks to be a master of all things, but I would stipulate it is not about being a master of all things in today’s world.  It is much more about being willing to explore things for all the different angles. It is about being open-minded to new ideas and a willingness to explore those ideas rather than dismissing them at the time of articulation. How many times have you been in a brainstorming session, and as soon as you or someone else shares an idea, someone in the room immediately dismisses it as not a ‘good’ way forward or ‘valid?”

It is as Ted Lasso said, “Less judgement, more curiosity.” It is about being willing to unlearn things and that includes our automatic mindset of judging first, explore later. We need to have a diverse group of people around us from not just diverse backgrounds, but also diverse perspectives and areas of ‘expertise’ to help us potentially view and approach a challenge in a different way.

For example, everyone experiences change, whether they like it or not – it happens in everyone’s life and we know it is going to continue to happen rapidly over the next 10 years. So, why not ask a painter about their experience with change and how they prefer or would have preferred it be done– or a dancer, or a graduate, or a financial person, or a environmentalist, etc. Now you may not get exactly what you think you might need from all those conversations, but you never know – creativity and open-mindedness enables more creativity and innovation.  Exploring a subject from a completely different perspective can create opportunities and solutions that you would never have thought of before.

And that is what it means to be a renaissance leader. Saying “hmmm” more and “no” less. It is about asking questions that perhaps no one else is asking. It is about saying “what if” and “why/why not” and exploring the possibilities with others. Sharing ideas and discussing them rather than telling people what to do and feeling like you have all the answers because you don’t and nor should you. It is not about you, it is about the collective of all the people.

When we talk about organisational change and transformation, we are talking about a large collective of people in which change will impact, so it only makes sense to have them involved from the beginning with the change. Asking them questions to see if this is even the right type of change or the right time for the change. It is about exploring more and controlling less.

We have been so focused as leaders on controlling tasks and things with the illusion that we are then controlling what will happen in the future. We need to stop deluding ourselves and realise we can not entirely control the future – none of us have a crystal ball. We don’t know exactly what is going to be around the corner, but we do know it is going to be something and it will be different to now.

What we can do instead is influence, ask questions, be curious, open-minded, surround ourselves with diverse people who think and do things completely differently to ourselves and have a mission to explore lots of possibilities through discussion.