Today, Industry Week published my article on why businesses need to develop global change agents, a new kind of leader that can move with ease and velocity across boundaries to break down silos and mobilize diverse groups to participate in problem solving and stimulate creative processes to discover new solutions to complex challenges. I have met with a number of companies recently to discuss what they see are their most critical leadership challenges--and their answers are remarkably similar, as captured in the article. Essentially these companies are skilled in execution and development, and they create great products, and this has led to extraordinary growth. They also have amazing technical talent in the organization, but the challenges they face today are adaptive and interdependent, and therefore technical capacity is insufficient. Multiple parts of the organization must now work together to protect what value they have amassed as an organization, to generate new products, and to service the customer. They now need global change agents, men and women who are global in mindset and practice, who can harness the power of diversity, are willing and able to display initiative and cross professional, hierarchical, and process boundaries, and can lead either with or without formal authority when needed.
These kinds of change agents are multidimensional in terms of style and approach, and can apply the appropriate kind of leadership for the adaptive challenge that they face. Unfortunately, global change agents are few and far between, and therefore this is the next big leadership development challenge facing organizations. They neglect this work at their own peril!