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Behold 2020 decade: The Implications on leadership

Robert Mandeya

As the 2020 decade beacons, it brings with it a mixed bag of hope and challenges which call for new perspectives for those in leadership.Above all, leaders will certainly have to develop a special character and a hybrid of leadership qualities to meet the unexpected dynamics of this new decade. Winning in this decade requires some tectonic shifts in strategy to cope with emerging challenges.

Expectations on national leadership

As we usher in the new year, it is always filled with hope and aspirations that our leaders will take heed of the signals that have been sent to them to correct what is wrong, drive the nation forward and work together for the betterment of all Zimbabweans.

Indeed, going into 2020, markets are going into the New Year in a position of fragility and uncertainty. Politically this decade will see a large number of young people reaching adulthood in Zimbabwe and Africa at large, which will fuel a powerful desire for change.

Global implications on business

This decade will not be fully understood without looking at some of the micro and macro fundamental factors that have a direct and indirect bearing on the economy and market performance for those in the small, medium and large business sectors.

This means leadership actions and decisions have to be taken into consideration, in both the local and global contexts. Lately the global economic and political contexts have been characterised by so much fluidity, for instance the US and China trade wars culminating into some form of a “ pact” between the two global economic power houses at the turn of the last decade.

The same period was also characterised by the Brexit impasse, leading to the British snap elections at the end of the year, which saw Boris Johnson clinching a majority in parliament which is likely to ensure him a parliamentary path towards the completion of a total pull out from the European Union.

However, the volatility in the Middle East seems to continue and even escalate to unimaginable levels with no solution in sight. All this and more will certainly have a bearing on leadership styles at every level.

Redefining business

Given the relentlessness of change on multiple dimensions, the keys to success are likely to be an agile leadership sensitive to the global political, economic and technological trends.

To stay ahead of these trends, leaders need to question their current assumptions and retool their organisations for the coming decade. Competition in business will come from some of the most unlikely sources.

The rapidly advancing artificial intelligence will certainly mean purely new digital opportunities to dominate the broad, consumer-oriented digital ecosystem. New opportunities will come increasingly from combining digital technology with existing physical assets.

To cope with these changes leadership will need to “come of age” by managing leadership transitions, avoiding the bureaucracy and inertia that generally come with greater size and longer history, and developing new strategies to preserve trust among users and society at large — challenges that traditional companies have considerably more experience with. As a new decade begins, all companies — regardless of their starting positions — will need to reinvent themselves for sustained success in the new competitive environment of the 2020s.

Winning in complex environment

Like I pointed out earlier, leaders will have to build hybrid human-machine learning organisations, master the science of organisational change and harness human diversity.

A new framework for business strategy which focuses on where to play and how to win needs to be developed.However, the “how” is now much more important than “where”: the reward for being a top performer is increasing across all industries. Unfortunately, these rewards are offset by an increasingly rapid regression to the mean.

New leadership paradigm

The year 2020 will see the entire leadership model turned on its head. Servant leadership puts leaders on the bottom and followers on top.
This approach aims to position leadership as a product of a system and not the product of one charismatic individual. Hierarchies will be inverted pyramids in the 2020s.

Please note that new beginnings can also be a frightening prospect for some. If the last one year — or 10 years — did not feel like you achieved a lot, do not worry because it is never too late.
In parting I would say, first impressions, great beginnings and the right first step, while wonderful, can also be terrifying. Trust me, I know. Even the slightest chance of failure can shatter a lot of people, and so, many of us choose not to take chances and to stick to “what we know”.

But this year, take a leap of faith! If it does not work the first time, or the second, or even the third, trust me, it will work at some point. After all, just that one chance is all you need. Just take one step at a time, and remember, 2020 can be your year. Wishing you a prosperous year!

Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/www.lird.co.zw.

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