Serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque is the founder of Shadoka. He is the author ofEverything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability (McGraw-Hill) and other books. Use the Everything Connects leadership app for free.
On its face, leadership’s goals don’t seem to line up with dictionary definitions of disruption. Here’s Merriam-Webster‘s:
disrupt: (verb dis·rupt \dis-?r?pt\) to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way; to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)
Surely leaders should do the reverse, providing a steady hand on the tiller and guiding their teams to consistent and predictable victories—right? That’s been the formula for organizational success for decades, at any rate.
Not any more. For all the buzzworthiness of the term “disruption,” the fact is that the competitive pressure to innovate and shake up established markets is too powerful for companies—and the people who lead them—to disregard. And that’s having ramifications in the day-to-day experiences of most workplaces. If their leaders don’t shake organizations from their slumber from within, they’ll struggle to compete in the wider world.
THE DISRUPTIVE IMPERATIVE
Corporate graveyards are littered with examples of companies that woke up to smell the coffee a little too late—Blockbuster, Blackberry, and Kodak, to name but a few. That’s rarely ever the fault of employees; the impetus to think disruptively must come from the top.
As an ad for Babson College’s MBA program noted back in 2011—before going on to be widely recited throughout the business world—some 40% of Fortune 500 companies in 2000 no longer existed by 2010. That rate of extinction hasn’t let up. Leaders have to be continuously ready to challenge everything that they’ve held dear.
Still, disruptive leadership isn’t about change for the sake of change. It’s about integrating change into the modus operandi of the company—which, of course, is easier said than done. The truly disruptive leader doesn’t need to talk about disruption because it’s simply how they get things done. How? Here are five ways the most dynamic leaders embrace disruption and radiate it through their entire organizations.
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