There are many great ideas, there are many great thought leaders, and there are many many many great blogs you can read on the future of business, life, education, leadership and work.
So what can I add that hasn’t already been said?
Here’s what I’ve noticed that has to change in a big way before we lose another year of wasted focus and money.
SMART Goals and Leadership ‘Training’. Yep, its time to kill them off for good.
WHAT?!?!? Every planning program, leadership framework, business excellence model on the planet talk about SMART goals and training your leaders…how can we kill it off?
I know, I’m a mad, crazy lunatic for suggesting it…but let me explain.
Tell me this. If every program that you’ve ever been to talks about implementing SMART goals. And every business that you’ve worked for has implemented leadership ‘training’…. then why the hell aren’t all businesses driven and goal-oriented and filled with amazing leaders?
There are many reasons and one of those reasons is because SMART goals and leadership training are flawed. They are too short term, too conservative, and too prescriptive to be of any use to future leaders.
My prediction is that business leaders will realise developing SMART goals and spending millions on leadership training was great in the 90s, but is not hitting the mark anymore. They will realise that they need something else, something more, something different.
And why will they come to realise this?
Because they are being forced to by the new customer and new employee that society and the digital revolution has created.
The digital disruption of the past 10-15 years means that everything we know about customers and employees is changing.
The new generation that are looking for leadership positions are different than the ones before. This is no great surprise, every generation brings change and difference. However, one of the biggest differences in the generations coming into work now and who are the leaders of the future is expectations. The expectations of themselves, as well as the expectation of their leaders and workplaces.
Through my work in leadership, coaching and culture change, I’ve noticed a big shift in expectations from employees – particularly those employees who are ambitious, about 3-5 years out of Uni and eager to move to into a leadership positions.
The expectations of this group includes having more flexibility, more money to live their lives with, more meaning in the work that they do, and they will do it from a leadership role.
Talented and future focused thought leaders are saying clearly that leadership is something that you are, not something that you do. They are also saying that current old fashioned leadership expectations have to change or businesses will not succeed into the future.
We will see leaders in the future working part-time and offsite…or you won’t have great leaders working for you, they’ll work for themselves.
The current rise of the solopreneur is demonstrating a need for more flexibility in the workplace, or we’ll loose all the great talent currently in the workplace to the world of freelance, and then you’ll buy your employee’s services at consulting rates.
Therefore, leadership training, as it is now, is completely inadequate for the kind of leaders and workplaces that will be needed and will be expected in the future.
There is too much focus on managing outcomes, and people. Instead the focus needs to be on managing expectations, innovation and mindset.
In school’s we are teaching young children to be leaders. We are teaching them that they can do whatever they want, be anything they want, change the world if that’s their desire. We tell them that the world is a smorgasbord of opportunities. We speak to University students about being the best that they can be, and making sure that they are thinking critically. We talk about innovation, about the need for everyone to look for efficiency improvements, in themselves and the work that they do.
And then they enter the workforce, and somewhere along the line they are given the message that they have to do what someone else says, what has been done before, and that they have to listen to ‘Jan/John’ because they happen to have been given the title of ‘Manager’.
I predict that there will be a disruptive leadership revolution…soon.
We have to start looking at new ways of creating leadership characteristics, rather than skills. We have to invest in mindset development, rather than leadership training. We have to look beyond the traditional methods of learning leadership and seek alternatives to the current norms (refer to most leadership/management qualification or well-established leadership programs and you will see the same curriculum that ‘Jan/John’ studied 30 years ago). We have to accept that future leaders will take learning into their own hands.
We have to accept that the future of leadership will look very different than what we see now.
The ‘Jan/John’s’ of the worlds are becoming redundant. Their skills are becoming obsolete in a world that is controlled more online than off, e.g.: your online reputation can now get you a job or get you fired. Our brand recognition and reputation is essential. People are realising that they need to run their careers like a business and no longer wait for their ‘Performance Development Discussion’ to progress their careers.
Personal PR and marketing skills are becoming so common that even marketers are realising that they have to do something different to engage this group of people because they aren’t fallen for the old tricks anymore.
Workplaces and leadership is the same. Future leaders are not going to fall for the same old tricks anymore. The old “If you don’t like it here, go work somewhere else” policy of management doesn’t work with a group of people who are globally minded and mobile. The threat is moot.
No worries dude, I’ll just do a bit of freelancing, head overseas for a bit and come back when you’re retired.
Given the changes in our mindsets, expectations, way of working, and our customer expectations…we need to kill off leadership training and implement something new, fresh and focused on leadership characteristics for all people.
We will see a new direction in leadership growth and development.
Oh right…. still have to talk about SMART goals….
…actually I just hate thinking so short term so SMART goals bore me to tears. It seems every program that I’ve seen in the last 5 years try to ‘teach’ SMART goals in some manner. I’m so over it, and so we at least need a new acronym so we don’t all nod off every time they are mentioned.
I’ve got no evidence to support the killing of SMART goals, other than everyone I’ve ever spoken to says ‘use them’, and then doesn’t. Every big business that I’ve worked with talks about them, and doesn’t plan that way. Every leadership/management program has a module on them, yet you and I have managed to be very successful by avoiding them.
You know that you are supposed to set SMART goals…yet you don’t. Why is this? Because they are boring and short term. Where’s the inspiration and motivation in that.
I want to loose 10 kilos by March, by working out at the gym. SMART and boring.
Try this instead….
I want to be a sexy goddess/adonis and dazzle everyone that comes into contact with me this year. Not SMART but definitely more fun and inspiring.
My philosophy is to have a bloody compelling future vision of what you want your future to be, and then take daily actions to propel you towards that vision. To me, that’s smart.
SMART goals are sooooo 2015…
So simply, maintain a vision for your future and plan/act accordingly, and focus on developing your mind and character to be an inspiring and productive leader – regardless of your position.
Author: Michelle Holland