Search - K2
Search - Categories
Search - Contacts
Search - Content
Search - Newsfeeds
Search - Weblinks
Monday, 08 December 2014 19:32

21st Century Leadership ~ Thinking Outside The Pyramid Featured

Written by 
Rate this item
(9 votes)

Whether leaders are prepared for it or not, workplace cultures across industries are changing at an accelerated pace. The pillars of the traditional hierarchical thinking are crumbling thanks to rapidly advancing technology, the rising power of social networks and, above all, a dramatic shift in global demographics. As a result, organizations are shifting focus from process to people by developing a culture of intrapreneurs.

Skilled talent has always been in demand, but a new era of global competition is driving the desire for labour pool alignment to unprecedented levels. Today’s corporations must outperform if they want to thrive and not just survive, and the litmus test will be how well they unlock the power and passion of their workforce to innovate, create value, and attract top line growth in expanding markets.

For the past two years we’ve gathered research insights from our clients and by contacting 50 leaders in global organizations spanning four continents. Our objective was to capture their views on systemic corporate challenges and to consider their ideas on the most effective management models needed to successfully lead people in the 21st century. Our research uncovered three critical issues:

1..Need for purpose and meaning: There are five generations of employees in the workforce and each has diverse skills, expectations and professional career experiences. What they have in common, however, is a desire to connect their passion and purpose with meaningful work.

2.Increasing complexity: Global leaders are finding it challenging to manage increased complexity by exclusively relying on financial incentives with traditional command and control systems.

3.Leadership shortage: Organizations are having difficulty identifying leaders who are capable of adapting a workforce to accelerated change.

Given these challenges, organizations are shifting their focus from process to people by emphasizing integration, innovation and transformation. To be successful in the future, leaders need to develop a stronger connection with their workforce by encouraging skill sharing and collaboration across the entire organization.

Successful leaders in the 21st century are creating more flexibility in workplace practices and developing “intrapreneurial” mindsets within their organizational culture. Intrapreneurial is defined as a person or group within a business or cross-functional team who takes direct responsibility for identifying corporate solutions and turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.

Leaders proficient at building intrapreneurial cultures that are linked to an organization’s mission and values, recognize that no matter where an employee is seated, once inspired and clear on purpose, they have the potential to make a tremendous difference to the organization as a whole. Leaders who develop teams with an intrapreneurial mindset realize that solutions to systemic challenges are often found within the organization. All they have to do is ask their employees.

But simply asking an employee for a solution to a corporate problem is not enough. Intrapreneurs need to be put in a position to succeed. Leadership can empower and support them by providing a workplace environment where they can actualize their potential, with full backing of the firm’s resources:

  • Test their skills
  • Question the status quo
  • Feel energized
  • Use their creativity to identify solutions and innovate ideas

Fostering an intrapreneurial spirit within a company encourages employees to more freely express, and exchange ideas with leaders and cross-functional teams. This enhances communication, builds trust and makes intrapreneurialism central to the core values of any company. Forward thinking organizations such as Google, Lockheed Martin, Ernst and Young, 3M, Apple and others are encouraging leaders to build flexible cross-generational and functional teams with individuals who have complementary skills, knowledge, are solution focused, and desire positive change.

5 Ways to Start Developing a Culture of Corporate Intrapreneurs

1.Workshops: Invest in the development of employees by executing training workshops on innovation, solution creation, client service excellence, and product development. A cross functional management team can review proposals generated in the workshops, evaluate and provide financial support for ideas with high propensity for value creation.

2. Innovation CentresCreate “Innovation Incubators or Hubs”, that build on workplace practices and are supported by organizational structures to maximize the likelihood that people meet across functions, communicate openly, innovate, share ideas and information, listen to and learn from each other, and develop a culture of mutual trust and support

3. TransparencyEncourage transparency so that management becomes more approachable and accessible to its employees and intrapreneurs can openly discuss and deliberate their ideas on new venture creation across all levels and functions in the firm.

4. RewardsDevelop reward and recognition systems that celebrate the success of individuals and teams who have generated value by presenting and executing innovative ideas and solutions. Recognition does not have to solely translate into money (exposure to executives, mentoring or a team celebration, by example).

5. FundingAllocate capital to promising projects, award successful intrapreneurs with short or long term incentives or partner with higher institutions to fund student innovation scholarships or projects.


A new era of global competition is forcing organizations to consider new models and styles of leadership that effectively navigate diverse employee populations through accelerated change. Building a corporate culture based on intrapreneurial thinking is a viable solution and requires leaders to be willing to recognize good ideas and to empower their teams by providing the trust, resources and freedom within a framework required to be successful. If this does not happen, their employees, and particularly the younger demographics, will consider companies with more flexible and open work cultures. Smart companies are creating workplace options that encourage collaboration and the execution of clear, innovative and strategic choices. Are you preparing your leaders to be successful in the 21st Century?

Wishing you continued success!

Ann Marie MacDougall


Read 20153 times Last modified on Saturday, 20 January 2018 22:05
You are here: Home