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The Big Ideas Issue

Karen Christensen

OVER THE LAST DECADE, organizations have faced one disruptive challenge after another. And unfortunately, it seems many leaders haven’t risen to the occasion. In MIT’s 2020 Global Executive Study, just 12 per cent of 4,394 respondents strongly agreed that their leaders had the right mindsets to lead them forward. And that was before COVID-19 came along, adding to the ‘challenge portfolio’ for every leader and manager in the world.

A recent Korn Ferry report argues that the executive role has become far too complex for any one individual to perform. The new mindset required, it says, is one of ‘enterprise leadership’. Enterprise leaders know how to balance performance with transformation — not just in their own area but, across the broader enterprise and ecosystem. In this issue we present some of the tools, mindsets and capabilities required to be a ‘next-level leader’.

Whether you love it or hate it, remote and hybrid work environments are here to stay. And there are important implications for leadership style. Rotman Professor Geoffrey Leonardelli says this new fact of life requires a distinct shift in mindset and some new priorities. We kick things off on page 6 with Hybrid Leadership: Lessons From a Crisis.

Have you interrogated any data lately? If not, maybe you should start, because data is not a crystal ball on its own. Columbia University Professor Christopher Frank and his co-authors argue that data-driven leaders must learn how to question data via ‘precision questioning’. The Art of Data Interrogation begins on page 18.

If your employees feel like they belong, they will bring the best of their abilities and themselves to work. Clearly, every leader wants that. On page 76, Rotman Professor Sonia Kang shows that by applying inclusive behaviours and setting certain norms, leaders can create a powerful culture of belonging.

Elsewhere in this issue, we feature one of Canada’s most innovative physicians, Dr. Amol Verma, in our Thought Leader Interview on page 12. Mental health advocate Poppy Jaman explains how to create a mentally-healthy workplace on page 30; and emerging-markets investing expert Asha Mehta describes the new investing paradigm on page 54. In our Idea Exchange, Entrepreneur magazine’s editor in chief Jason Feifer describes the four stages of change on page 94; Rotman Executive in Residence Naki Osutei explains how to build a career on personal ‘impact principles’ on page 98; and Nicole Price shows how to engineer a culture of empathy on page 125.

The role of the self-assured, fully confident manager who always knows the right answer is all but impossible to achieve in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. But the good news is, VUCA comes with a hopeful side: As futurist Bob Johansen has noted, volatility can yield to vision; uncertainty to understanding; complexity to clarity; and ambiguity to agility.

No one knows what our disruptive world will throw at us next. But we can be certain of one thing: those who possess a repertoire of complementary competencies and mindsets will be most effective at leading their teams and organizations through the turbulence. It’s time to take your leadership to the next level. 


The name Karen signed in cursive
Karen Christensen, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @RotmanMgmtMag

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