It’s Time To Get Personal About Disruption Margot Andersen ‘Those who can successfully navigate, even harness the successive cycles of learning and maxing out … will thrive in this era of personal disruption.’ -Whitney Johnson ‘Throw Your Life A Curve’ More and more leaders are talking openly about disruption. Not only it’s impact on the market place but on their organisations and their people. No longer is the term disruption simply reserved for the world of start-ups or the technology landscape in that far, far away land called Silicon Valley. It is very much a part of the here and now for all leaders and it is personal! The simple truth is that if we aren’t disrupting we are reacting to it This reality brings with it a host of challenges, least of all how to effectively navigate and lead in environments where many of the traditional mindsets and behaviours no longer apply - and where uncertainty prevails. How do I motivate, encourage and reward my team when there is no footprint for what we are trying to do? How do I manage my own career in this landscape? Our ability as leaders to make good decisions and choices is instrumental to our business and personal success. Ironically though for many organisations the tendency to rely on what was once a good decision and the subsequent failure to recognize that changing times require new decisions is ultimately their downfall. This failure to do so sees them being swallowed up by competitors whose innovation and responsiveness sees them grab both market share and talent. art of career and leadership reinvention and continually focus on adding new skills and capabilities to our existing repertoire. Personal reinvention is hard. But so to is living with the risk of becoming irrelevant. Current statistics suggest that we will change careers on average seven times in our lifetime – not change jobs but change careers! We are educating our children for careers that currently do not exist; and if they do will be delivered in ways that are not yet currently seen. We are witnessing the demand for jobs that require repetitive process and clerical and support skill sets massively decline. Replacing them is a demand for ever-evolving digital skill sets, creative thinking and many of the previously considered ‘soft’ skills of influencing, negotiation and collaboration. For those of us whose careers are underpinned by university degrees, the recent discussions suggesting that the life span of this knowledge and skillset is as short as three years is both confronting and challenging. In their book, The Innovator’s DNA, Jeffrey Dyer and Clayton Christensen identify five behaviours that characterise innovative leaders: Associating (the ability to make connections across unrelated ideas or problems), Questioning, Observing, Networking and Experimenting. These leadership behaviours not only support the generation of new ideas but the timely planning and execution of them into the market place so as to ensure an organisation achieves significant competitive advantage. To create a sustainable career, we will need to face up to a world of disruption, master the In addition to developing these behaviours for ourselves, we as leaders need to ensure that we are creating environments where they are allowed to flourish for the people we lead. Given that these environments are rich in ambiguity and uncertainty, encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zone and embrace the unknown is a challenge for all leaders today.