Friday, March 01, 2013

On Complexity

Our world is complex and it always was. However, the complexity leadership is confronted with today, extends beyond common comprehension.


Globalization requires leaders able of knowing and understanding different cultures, different cultural backgrounds. Understanding the Art of Communication, tuning in into the frequency of others no matter where they are from, is indispensable for any leader. Situations, where a leader has to deal with many different cultures simultaneously, are becoming much more frequent now in our connected world. Discussions on a daily basis via, for instance, video chats with people from all over the world are meanwhile normal. Teams are already consisting of people from different countries, and that will increase dramatically. Collaboration and cocreation on a global scale is becoming the norm, since people can easily connect to each other in real time 24/7. Hence, this is adding big time to the complexity of leadership. 


Technology is creating an ever faster paced environment, putting information at the fingertips of everyone in real time. Big data is suddenly available in a depth and richness unprecedented in history. Getting these vast amounts of data analyzed and made sense out of it is simply essential for leadership. Leaders then must be able to quickly assess what the data means for their decision making. For that their team is crucial ... a stellar team with diverse backgrounds. 

The Transformation of Organizational Structures and Society

We are just at the beginning of a massive transformation of how organizations of any kind will be structured and operating. You ain’t seen nothing yet ...

The increase in complexity, coming with that transformation, adds to the uncertainty Leadership is facing and being exposed to in any given situation. More often than not leaders will find themselves in unfamiliar and sometimes extreme situations. Yet, they will have to assess almost instantly how to act upon or react to whatever comes along. For that to happen leaders need to be trained in developing the highest situational awareness. And the leaders alone might not, cannot always see everything. Too many things might be happening all at once, too much data coming in. In such a complex environment only the well trained team in close cooperation with an equally well trained leadership makes the big difference. The role of the leader is transformed into that of a connector in an ever more complex system. Leaders, who surround themselves with world class people, capable of challenging the status quo ... people bringing, each one of them, different and controversial points of view. That requires more than anything trust in the capabilities of everyone, trust that each member is doing its job in excellence, trust that the leader truly leads the team from the front, from within ... becoming one with the team, so to speak. The new leader is in that role, as I see it,  the primus inter pares, the first among equals.

We need this new kind of leadership ... the leadership of the 21st century ... able and trained to take on the challenges of this transformation ... seeing and seizing opportunities where others might only see chaos ... thus, creating the mutually beneficial organizational change ... creating the new society. We need Excellence in the Art of Leadership! 


  1. Thanks for these thoughts, Walter. How true that Leaders will be 'first among equals'. With all the info available to everyone, we are more and more determining our own decisions and direction. So cohesion is the challenge. And altruism.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Loris Thomas!