A Tipping Point A Time for New Leadership

By Ilona Haaijer, Dave Tullett and Andrew White

“The weather is closing in, the ground beneath my feet is shaking, I’m at an edge, on an edge, and the view from here is shrouded in mist” Corporate Senior Executive, Davos 2017 E ven a cursory glance at a newspaper these days gives a sense of the shaky grip we have on the forces that are driving change across and within our society. We see a world that has reached a tipping point; entered a threshold space where “the old order simply cannot contain the trajectory of the new.” We experience an extraordinary and palpable sense of urgency for the emergence of a more relevant and sustainable leadership archetype, people who are able to take the lead in shaping mindsets and leadership practices to create the conditions for greater engagement with all of society. Such a transformation is no longer an idealised or idle dream but a pressing business imperative. A New Corporate Leadership Archetype We see this new archetype of (corporate) leadership emerging.  Leaders that no longer crave certainty but have learned to live with and lead in the face of unpredictability, ambiguity and complexity. Leaders with inner strength and resilience who hold the space for the development of their teams. These ‘space-holders’ do not just create the space within which meaningful conversations can take place; they actively sustain that space even when the tension of competing ideas and points of view ratchet up the discomfort. This new archetype has clarity, possesses the courage to act, and delivers direction and value by focusing on purpose and engagement for the organizations and communities they operate in.  In describing the emergence of this new archetype our intention is not to offer a prescription nor a five-step plan. This is not a new form of ‘super-charged’ heroic leader, nor is it a collective leadership mired in consensus and compromise. We see leaders taking responsibility for themselves and their actions and choosing to create the space for purposeful collective leadership.  In 2014 we interviewed 150+ CEOs to understand what it takes to develop the capability to be an authentic and effective leader in the 21st century. They described a meta-capability, an ‘early warning system’ that helps them predict how trends and contexts may intersect, interact and change direction. We coined the expression ‘Ripple Intelligence’ to describe how CEOs anticipate disruption, make time to plan and protect their organizations against unexpected events.

12 | Developing Leaders Issue 30: 2018

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