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It's a Connected Economy – Are You An Empowered Leader? Never before has it been more important to disrupt leadership. Here's why as a leader, you need to be disrupting yourself.

By Barbara Walsh

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As the world hurtles on its rapid trajectory of change, companies of necessity are having to adapt, transform and dare we say disrupt.

But what does disruption mean?

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen defines disruption as a model that displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile.

There's never been such a proficient sense of urgency for organisations to disrupt and we get why.

Facebook, Uber, YouTube, TransferWise and Spotify didn't exist 15 years ago. Look just a little further back and you'll find that companies like Netflix didn't exist some 20 years ago.

And whilst Apple, which commenced operations in 1976, may be old in comparison to the likes of Amazon (1994) or YouTube (2004), it certainly has shown itself to be the Madonna of modern business, constantly reinventing itself through it's non-stop release of sexy products that leads one to question whether it's indeed a computer, technology, financial services, fitness or fashion company.

Related: Why Great Speakers Are Great Leaders

We of course know the truth that at its core, is a brand driven by its customers and passion for perfection.

The mobile connection

We know that due to the mobile phone and internet connectivity disruption today is happening at a scale and speed that is unprecedented in modern history.

Facebook hasn't skipped a beat in this regard and is even ploughing some of its mammoth profits into Connectivity for All with it's mission to extend internet connectivity to all corners of the globe.

Of course, this is only going to strengthen it's cause and advertising revenue but that's another discussion. With Facebook having more followers than Christianity; 2.3 billion users to be exact, in just 15 years, there's a clear case for disruption.

From banking to retail, media, logistics, manufacturing, education, professional services, and life sciences, digital technologies and business models; life is changing. Fast.

It isn't just new companies that are able to disrupt their industries. The Ikea story began in 1926 but it only developed it's flat pack build-your-own concept in the 80s.

Related: 15 Mistakes Successful Leaders Know to Avoid

Ikea disrupted furniture in a way that no one could have imagined. So, who's to say old dogs can't become tigers, never mind perform new tricks?

Disruption means new leadership models

Organisations world over, despite their history, are having to shift their ability to adapt to constant change (agility) as well as the way in which they function.

This radical revolution means that change-agile, team-oriented leadership and the ability to connect to one's customers are more important than ever before.

The models of leadership that served yesterday's business models no more relevant than the business models themselves. This is why "in-context' models are so relevant as they address people and the connections between them as a model for harnessing team performance that delivers on tomorrow's strategy.

It's this new way of learning combined with technology that will shape leaders who can envision, transform and disrupt their industries. It's these change agents, who are courageous and vulnerable, are able to cope with complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, and who will shape the future with and for their people.

Enter personalisation at scale within the organisation

According to the Harvard Business Review: "Chief learning officers find that traditional programs no longer adequately prepare executives for the challenges they face today and those they will face tomorrow."

Related: What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Personalisation is a commonly understood term by CMO's defining a brand's ability to reach its customers on the right channels with the right message at the right time. Amplify this with engaging content and you've got Netflix.

So why not Netflix for professionals? Why should it be any different for organisations and their people? Essentially harnessing YouTube with the intelligence of Netflix could change the face of learning within organisations forever. Don't be fooled, it's happening already.

Metaco has been developing systems designed to meet the needs of organisations thriving in a VUCA world. The project has taken a number of distinct approaches through VR, a best of breed offline available Learning Management System available as an app and micro-learning programmes.

Why VR?

Disagreeing with an executive. Asking for resources. Having a tough conversation with a team member about their performance. These are just three examples of the many difficult conversations' managers encounter every day in a professional context.

Imagine having the opportunity to practice a difficult conversation without the anxiety and fear of response that one typically experiences in such situations. Enter virtual reality manager coaching. And don't worry, no glasses needed!

Related: 6 Things Professional Leaders Do Every Day

The result apart from the better relational ability in context?

A reduced number of sessions with the inclusion of face to café coaching sessions that enable the cost of coaching to come down, whilst increasing the integration of learning.

Providing scale with reduced cost but greater experience for users

As a result of rapidly changing contexts and the use of mobile, the world of work has shifted with leaders, teams and people increasingly blending their personal and professional lives.

With the development of a dual online and offline Learning Management System, organisations will have greater access a platform that provides learning through better user experience and tracking and performance analytics.

As a result of such platforms organisations are becoming focused on adoption of learning and the integration thereof rather than just the provision thereof. And why not? If organisations themselves are being disrupted and needing to disrupt, why not the models of leadership, learning and even roles themselves?

Related: Stop Making Excuses And Start Leading

Barbara Walsh

Specialist leadership development consultant

Barbara Walsh is Managing Director of Metaco Consulting, a subsidiary of the Comair Group. As a Master Systemic Team and Executive Coach, she works locally and internationally in the fields of leadership and organisational learning to achieve far-reaching results. Barbara has an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change through Henley Business School in the UK, and is registered as a Master HR Practitioner: Learning and Development with the SA Board for People Practices.
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