We live in an interconnected world, shaped 24/7 by shifting rules and, perhaps more importantly, a shift in who makes the rules. We find ourselves grappling with complexity and uncertainty. The unfamiliar has become the norm. As evidenced in the perspectives in this inaugural issue of Dialogue, the challenges facing leaders have changed substantially, not incrementally.
As challenges are less predictable, the solutions must be more systemic and the power to affect change requires influence as opposed to formal authority.
No individual or organization holds the answers – and answers are no longer enduring. It is also becoming apparent that professionals need more than new bits of knowledge to meet these challenges. A fundamental reorientation to the world and what leadership truly is today, is required.
For that reason, I offer no simple solutions in this column. Rather, I invite you to a global Dialogue.
The archetypal caricature of an ambitious business person of the 1980s, Gordon Gecko (portrayed in the film Wall Street by Michael Douglas) declared brazenly that ‘greed for want of a better word is good’. Leaving the obvious deleterious effects of such motivation aside, the notion that greed was an expression of an innate human impulse to compete and survive was probably not misguided.
Similarly, one might argue that uncertainty, for want of a better word, is good. For years we’ve been taught, as leaders, to root it out at all costs. Certainty an confidence went hand in hand. To deal with constant uncertainty, leaders need to confidently embrace the unfamiliar in ways we once did earlier in life. To do so will require a reorientation and rewiring which taps into the ability to be more curious than cynical; spend more time engaging and experimenting with problems rather than worrying about being right; find new sources of insight and perspectives; and learn faster to continuously raise our game.
Here is where Dialogue comes in and why we at Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE) believe it is important. At Duke CE, we strive to make a difference by preparing leaders to face the challenges of a more complex world and shape a brighter future for their organizations. We create customized educational experiences bringing fresh insights to problems, use innovative,engaging learning methods and enable leaders to have impact back at work.
We are also fundamentally rethinking how executive education needs to change to meet these challenges.
For us, ‘dialogue’ is an extension of learning and, as such, Dialogue is a global connector, catalyst and community. It will bring together perspectives from global thought leaders and top executives leading to fresh insights on the issues that matter to managers. It will also provide a means for readers to connect online, bringing people, thought and action together. Cynics might argue that in our perhaps ‘overnetworked world’, there is already enough information.
While access to information has increased, so has clutter. The premium is not on volume, but efficient access to insight on things that matter. We want Dialogue to be a place where leaders get smarter faster, accelerate their success and raise their game, enabling them to reshape the world significantly and positively.
I invite you to join the dialogue; together we can make a difference.
- Michael Canning