Macala Wright: My 2013 Prediction, Senior Leadership Must Change Its Tune

As the year draws to a close, we asked the Digital Strategist what she thinks will dominate in 2013.

Senior leadership has a problem. And that problem is – by design – we’re out of touch with the way the world (that our business lives within) actually operates. We’ve designed the business in such a way that we make it almost impossible to have our hands – or heads – wrapped around the triggers/levers of change and execution.

For leadership in all areas, 2013 holds a wake up call. To survive (let alone) outperform and stay ahead we’re going to have to look at the quality of our leadership and in particular what that role now means. There are nine trends that we see leadership focusing on:

  1. Meaningful Collaboration – In order to create sustainable success, leaders will have to lose their silo mentality and be willing to work with other teams and outside partners that are key to our brands, products and/or services’ futures. When we do this, we’ll be able to inspire those who work under our leadership to spread our vision and accomplish the goals we’ve set forth.
  2. Innovation – Leaders will understand that they have to gain the creativity to transform and innovate products and services that drive consumer demand due to their usefulness and value as it relates to that individual’s life. Understanding the principles of simplicity, utility and function are key to most “innovative” successes.
  3. Social Technology – Successful leaders will have to understand that “social” is a connective layer that courses through everything, it’s not its own department or experimental division. Leaders will be tasked with developing the skills and talent necessary to exploit mobile and social technologies now in order to maintain relevancy in the future and connect with customers in ways that make them want to participant in our brand’s world and have to be inspired to have a conversation with us.
  4. Systems Thinking – Leaders must understand the power of systems thinking. Leaders will better educate themselves and develop the ability to understand and exploit the meaning in found patterns. By developing our critical analysis abilities, we’ll develop appreciation and understanding of how systems actually work. We may even become “Spiral Wizards,” a term used by Dr. Don Beck in his book, Spiral Dynamics. Spiral Wizards are “individuals with the ability to see over vast landscapes, seeing patterns and connections that others don’t notice.” The connections and patterns we see will allow us to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  5. Engagement – Real communication within an organization comes from authentic engagement with key members in it. As a result, receptiveness and encouragement of ideas and thoughts will become far easier allowing leaders to identify new opportunities to make their company better. It also provides new opportunities for employee ownership of projects and employee passion and belief in company causes.
  6. Values – Leaders will redefine what their principles and understand that the real qualities of great leaders are humility, persistence, courage, tenacity, and the ability to tell (or craft) a story so that people will care. They’ll also have an appreciation for these characteristics in others.
  7. Ethical Business – Currently far too much leadership is transparently tokenism. 21st Century leaders possess a social and humanistic ethic. They will “do good for the sake of good,” not just publicity or company growth. Being socially conscious will become ingrained in all they touch.
  8. Quality Over Quantity – Successful leaders will increasingly realize the need for networks of resources that can add to their capability. Successful leaders will realize that while big name partners and agencies may be part of their future success, they’ll also realize that smaller groups can play key roles in their development and success. They won’t shy away from actively seeking them and working with them.
  9. Limits of Automation – Successful leaders will realize that we’ve reached our limits of automation. While we may be able automate many things, we’re going to need to bringing back human editors and curators to create better offerings  and emotional connections that can’t just be found in data. Google has already realized this; we must also.

As a business leader, what area(s) are you focusing on developing in order to be more effective in your role?

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/PeskyMonkey

Macala Wright is the Head of Digital Innovation & Strategy, US for Group Partners.

Read more 2013 Predictions here.

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