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Featured Insights | Talent Consulting

The Necessities of 2023

Written By Terry Samaras, Talent Consulting Practice Lead

At Pacific Talent Partners, we have had the opportunity to work with a large number of C- Suite Executives this year, from a variety of companies and industries. Given the context of my role, the nature of our conversations have always gravitated towards the practice of Leadership.

In fact, in over 25 years in Leadership Development and Organisational Consulting and out of personal curiosity to learn from experience, I have always asked every staff member, manager, and leader that I have had the privilege to work with across 48 companies, 21 industries and 29 nationalities – what is Leadership? No one has ever given an identical or even similar answer.

Why is something that is such a ubiquitous subject, so diversely and uniquely interpreted? The answer is, we all view such a common practice through the lens of our own experience, and we articulate its understanding with a language centred on our own personal values.

What that means for anyone accepting the responsibilities of Leadership, the larger your team, the wider your remit, the greater the customer and market exposure, the more diverse the expectations and judgements. This is the fundamental challenge of Leadership.

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Leadership as a Skill

Leadership, as an objective skill is simply the ability to influence.

At the core of all the value laden descriptions, however, is the specific skill itself. Leadership, as an objective skill is simply the ability to influence ourselves and others, and this always occurs in the context of human relationships.

In practice, leadership is a relationship – to ourselves, to our peers, to our teams, to our existing and potential customers, and to the future – and this relationship is fundamentally changing, given the continuing digitisation and acceleration of the marketplace.

This is why the pre-occupying organisational challenges of 2022 all dovetail into one common denominator. Health and wellbeing (relationship to ourselves), hybrid working, diversity and inclusion (relationships with others) and sustainable growth (our relationship with nature). Couple these organisational challenges with the economic issues of 2022 and we really have a rare environment.

The Market is Always Leading

It is a privileged opportunity we all have to either anticipate, adapt, and contribute value or eventually become irrelevant.

Whilst we are all creating the future in relationship with each other, very few of us are doing it consciously, and it is a privileged opportunity we all have to either anticipate, adapt and contribute value or eventually become irrelevant, for the Market is the ultimate leader and it is always leading.

Unfortunately, it appears with many companies that the current leadership discussions are still focusing on internal problem solving as opposed to market facing innovation – anticipating the future and re-designing a business that takes advantage of emerging commercial circumstances.

Leaders seeking to emerge from the challenges of the past years in a stronger position must recognise that Leadership can be brought to life in

  1. a linear individual manner, often identified by the Leader as the decision maker, communicator and commander or;
  2. in a multidimensional social manner, identified by the Leadership as the designers of systems and relationships and mentors of other designers and relationship builders.

The former is a style founded on the limitations of energy and time and a limited understanding of influence and accountability, and the latter is founded on the scalable processes of ecosystems thinking, business modelling and social dynamics.

The moment we view Leadership as something that Executives do, as opposed to a system of interconnected relationships of accountability and influence, then we are limiting ourselves to a position of reaction rather than understanding the natural creative processes of the environment, the market and humanity.

As I have stated in the past and recently quoted by my colleague Dr Alistair Clark, leadership as a system is a matrix of capabilities at all levels of an organisation and all dimensions of a society. Leaders need to systematically expand and accelerate the development of these capabilities to build a resilient organisation, for without scalable accountability and influence, the future is nothing more than a gamble.

A Time to Reflect and Plan

Effective Leaders and their organisations are constantly looking at the big picture, asking questions and finding opportunities.

The market circumstances currently influencing all of us — war, geopolitics, energy scarcity, rapid inflation, and changing labour relations seem more critical now than ever, but history has always proven to be a reliable predictor that challenges can serve as a catalyst to innovation and growth. In fact, I would argue it is a necessity if we wish to remain relevant in the future.

It is hard to influence positive outcomes in an environment of pessimism, however, one simple but powerful model that provides an example of how to directly adapt to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous circumstances is the OODA Loop developed by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd, and applied in a variety of business scenarios:

  • Observe: the necessity for contextual analysis
  • Orient: the necessity to find advantages and opportunities
  • Decide: the necessity to choose and prioritise
  • Act: the necessity to take action

These may sound easy, but try doing them when the consequences are life or death and retreat is not the honourable option. I once had the privilege to present at a Conference with a retired US Colonel of the 75th Regiment of the Army Rangers, the elite of the American armed forces. Always curious about the practice of Leadership, I asked him afterwards how do you choose those that lead the elite. He told me a chilling story and then gave me the moral, ‘if your mind can’t see the opportunity, then you simply can’t lead’. This is the fundamental skill of resilience.

In a business context, as our colleagues at the McKinsey Global Institute have highlighted in their recent article “Pixels of Progress: A granular look at human development around the world”, “Firms that reimagine rather than retreat from interconnection can reshape value chains in ways that contribute to both growth and resilience.” (Dec 2022).

To implement all of the above effectively, however, assumes a healthy humility in relation to past achievements, a genuine curiosity to understand and influence the future, and an openness to challenging ourselves and others to higher standards of learning, application and achievement.

Effective Leaders and their organisations are constantly looking at the big picture, asking questions and finding opportunities and at this time of year, it is an opportunity to appreciate and reflect on the past year and to emerge with ideas that begin 2023 with a sense of optimism and initiative.

What have you learnt from the experiences and achievements of this year?
What have been the challenges that still remain to be addressed next year?
What will you and your Leadership team do differently next year?
How will this make you far more valuable, relevant and a greater contributor to the Market?
What do you look forward to with enthusiasm in 2023?

At Pacific Talent Partners, we love seeing Leaders exceed their limitations and expectations and create a new level of outstanding performance for themselves, their people and their business. We provide cutting-edge customised solutions in Executive Search, Talent Consulting and Interim Solutions for government bodies, global brands, ASX listed companies, and private family businesses across Australasia.

For those Executives that wish to be even more impactful and influential in 2023, we wish you a joyous celebration of what you have achieved in 2022, a blessed holiday season, and we look forward to discussing with you what the next level could be for you in 2023. You are welcome to contact me on +61 2 82318 1822 terrysamaras@ptpaustralia.com

About the Author(s)

Terry Samaras | Talent Consulting Practice Lead

With over 27 years of global experience consulting with some of the world’s leading international brands such as British Airways, BP, Citigroup, HSBC and Rolls Royce Power; over 45 companies in 21 industries and 29 nationalities across the UK, Europe, the US and Australia.

Terry has expertise in aligning vision, innovation, culture and strategy implementation to accelerate commercial performance and sustain scalable growth.

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