Posted by Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventure
Leadership
Posted on December 3rd, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Lessons from the Titanic for future focused leaders

Have you ever wondered what you would do differently if you were a leader on the historic voyage of the Titanic? A century later we are still gripped by the tragedy, the horrors and even the romance of the loss. It was a shocking catastrophe that cost 1,514 lives.The sinking took about the same time it takes to watch a motion picture at the cinemas and many of the myths were true: woman and children did go first, the band did play as the ship sank, millionaire and industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet did change into their evening dress going down in style, and, the ship was indeed advertised as “practically unsinkable. The sinking of the Titanic raises unyielding questions of how the leaders responsible for it’s crossing: captain of the ship, Edward Smith, Chief Mate, Henry Tingle Wilde or J. Bruce Ismay MD of White Star – the owners of Titanic, could have done things differently. Most strikingly it provides thought-provoking analogies for today’s leaders, navigating often at full speed through turbulent oceans full of icebergs.

What is fascinating today is how many modern day businesses behave as if they are practically unsinkable, with little regard or consideration for the disruptive forces, which just like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, too can sink their ship of commerce.

Like J. Bruce Ismay, who persuaded captain Edward Smith to steam as fast as possible to New York because it would be a fine achievement to arrive a day early; the business leaders of many of today’s large corporations are arrogant, deluded about the security of their business and disconnected from the reality of a rapidly changing, complex and challenging world and as the iceberg looms large they deny or even ignore its existence.

Fortunately there are three things that leaders can do to avoid the icebergs, or the disruptive forces that threaten to sink their businesses.

  1. Understand the future: The future is happening all around us and very quickly. You don’t even have to look that far to begin to see the signs of what is changing, you just have to be looking and having the strategic conversations throughout your organisation so that you a) identify the disruptive force, b) communicate it through out the organisation quickly and effectively and c) do something about it.
  2. Prepare for the future: There are several key competencies required for iceberg or disruptive force avoidance. They include: storytelling, collaboration, results sharing, intelligence, passion, and transparency. Together these form ingredients for adaptive leadership an essential component for successful companies in a changing world
  3. Connect with the Future: People are the driving force behind our changing world. People also represent a key source of future competitive advantage. The rules of the game have changed. Competitive advantage used to be about how efficiently assets were managed. Today that is still the case but if that is all you are focusing on all you will get is parity. Today leaders need to up their game and not only deliver efficiency but also build competitive advantage around relationships.

 

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives