Relevant and relevance, two often overlooked and yet vitally important terms, especially in regards to the organizations that operate in our modern society. More and more often we see those organizations and products that we viewed as constants in our lives both disrupted and eradicated as they lose their ability to meet the needs of a constantly changing and evolving world.
Kodak, Mervyns, Circuit City, Blockbuster and a plethora of other organizations have watched as innovation has disrupted and rendered their products and services no longer needed…forcing them to close shop and forever shut their doors to a public they once served. When organizations and individuals are unable or unwilling to notice and anticipate the change forces coming at them they very often find themselves and their organizations not only losing relevance, but becoming irrelevant. For some the process is very quick and decisive and for others it is a slow march to extinction.
Most often, leadership can be faulted for their inability or unwillingness to anticipate and understand the change forces that are underfoot. Leaders have to adjust their mindset to recognize that we operate in a completely different society, a society where trends in fashion, music, business and technology change as quickly as they are ushered into existence. Those same trends in technology are responsible for a constant need to innovate and disrupt itself exponentially. It is that same disruptive technology that serves as the medium for a current and constant data stream that often reveals the ground is moving below our feet even before we have noticed.
However, as leaders, it is our responsibility to the organizations and individuals we lead and serve to be ever vigilant in anticipating those changes. Making ourselves accountable to data and data-based decision-making is an increasing component of today’s leadership duties. Understanding and utilizing relevant information to prepare your organization to meet the demands of an ever changing and evolving world and society in which we exist is a requirement for relevancy in the 21st century.
Leaders themselves have to be attentive to their own abilities and skill-sets if they are to increase their capacity to stay relevant. Today’s leaders need to be intrinsically motivated to embrace their own professional and personal development. Personal accountability to themselves and those they lead spurs the motivation to continually put them ahead of the curve. A leader must be in a constant state of building upon and evolving the skill-sets that took them to the level of leadership for which they currently reside. The willingness to put forth the effort and time to improve at your craft is a true mark of a professional.
However, one of the many reasons organizations find themselves facing a relevance dilemma is that the same leadership that took them to their current level of achievement no longer has the applicable skill-set to guide them further down the continuum. We often see our leaders work diligently to acquire the learning and knowledge to reach their current level in an organization, and once acquired, the diligence to continue their learning and build upon their current skill-set diminishes or dissolves altogether. What many fail to realize is that those same skill-sets and acquired knowledge that took you to your current position is often outdated by the time you fill the position. A reason why a focus on increasing the learning capacity in our organizations is truly vital to their ability to stay relevant and ahead of the curve in today’s society. It is also the reason why organizational leaders must not only model, but lead the charge.
As a leader, take charge of your own learning and professional development if you want make sure that both you and the organization that you lead remain a vital and relevant factor in today’s society.