by Richard Dool

Book description from the publisher.

This book explores the intersections between leadership and velocity (the speed of now) to identify key leadership competencies needed for the 21st Century. We offer a set of ten competencies that may serve as a foundation of effective leadership that emerged from our experiences, interviews with 30 leaders, and research. These competencies may be especially timely in the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis and the need for effective leadership at all levels.

We can see both the critical need for these competencies as well as the stark contrasts in practice – those leaders who are rising to the moment and others whose lacking is disappointingly notable. We hope this book may enable leaders to establish their leadership brand and enhance their leadership practices.

Overview of the Book

Dr. Dool developed the concept of LeaderocityTM and the notion of leading at the speed of now.  He came to realize that the intersection of leadership and velocity could provide insight into the challenges facing leaders. He wanted to understand the competencies needed to be an effective leader in the 21st Century or the “Speed of Now.”

The goal for this book is to add to the body of leadership literature in a manner that enables today’s leaders or aspiring leaders to use our thoughts on the competencies needed to lead effectively in this century to enhance their brand and practices.

Leaders need to be lifelong learners to stay current or to even get ahead. Leadership has been studied for over 100 years in the US and remains a dynamic, ever-shifting field. This book is intended to offer a set of competencies that leaders can reflect on and potentially deploy. There is no magic formula, leadership is often both contextual and situational. The best leaders deploy their competencies in a tailored manner leveraging their strengths and complimenting their lesser skills.

We offer our set of ten competencies to be considered based on our research, experiences, and more than 30 interviews with current leaders.

It is not meant to be prescriptive, more for consideration by each leader to assess and reflect on their own leadership values, brand and practices and to decide if what we offer in this book can add to them. We hope both current and aspiring leaders consider our selected competencies and put them into action in a manner that is tailored, personal and authentic.

Genesis of the Book

This book had its genesis during a time the author served as an executive with General Electric. General Electric has long been acclaimed for its leadership development. Venerable behemoths like GE, IBM, P&G, and McKinsey have historically been viewed as CEO factories; indeed, 20.5% of all CEOs appointed at the S&P 1500 firms from 1992 to 2010 came from 36 CEO factories such as these, with GE being the largest (Botelho & Kos, 2020). GE’s famed Crotonville Learning Center in NY has been developing GE leaders since the 1950’s. 12,000 employees are trained each year in an array of leadership development programs. CEO Magazine named GE one of the “Best Companies for Leadership” in 2016.

GE recognized that some of its leadership development content and activities were dated and needed a significant refresh to meet the global demands that GE was facing. A GE executive noted: “A key Crotonville focus, says GE’s Leimonitis, is around what 21st-century leadership looks like, at a time of such disruption and when multiple generations are entering the workforce.” (Nicholls, 2017).

GE conducted a multi-year study to update and refresh the leadership competencies needed to be effective in this century. GE’s Chief Learning Officer Raghu Krishnamoorthy spoke of the outcomes which resulted in the “New GE Beliefs” and included values of: Customers determine our success, stay lean to go fast, learn and adapt to win, empower, and inspire each other, and deliver results in an uncertain world. They reflect a renewed emphasis on acceleration, agility, and customer focus. GE wanted to move its culture from Command and Control to one of Inspire and Connect – a cultural change from within (versus top-down) (Stevenson, 2014).

The author was fortunate to be at GE during this transition and attend two senior executive level leadership development programs at Crotonville. From these courses and his time helping embed the new GE Beliefs in his own global teams, Dr. Dool became intrigued on what competencies are needed to effectively lead in the 21st Century. He spent the last few years thinking, researching, and asking what is needed.

This book is the initial result. We offer our set of ten leadership competencies that we feel are pivotal for today’s leaders. We are not taking the position that this is THE set or even an exhaustive inventory. We do, however, offer them as a foundation that global leaders can use to establish their leadership brand and enhance their leadership practices. It is also especially timely in the midst of the global crisis and the need for effective leadership at all levels. We can see both the critical need for these competencies as well as the stark contrasts in practice – those leaders who are rising to the moment and others whose lacking is disappointingly notable.

Context: The Speed of Now

Today’s business environment is considered to be more complex and dynamic than ever. Forces such as technological advances and globalization have combined to create a volatile landscape with unprecedented degrees of change. This era was captured by the U.S. Army War College back in 1987, with the term “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and now in 2020, seems even more so.

This period has also been called a “permanent white-water world,” “the age of turbulence” (Greenspan, 2007), and the “age of chaotics.”

Leaders today face a macro-environment filled with an unprecedented level of active “stressors” (e.g., technological advancement, increased globalization, nomadic & dispersed workforce, economic shifts, increased competition, increase in overall pace, increased diversity, disruptive innovations). It is being routinely argued that the rate of change is increasing.

We are in this era of “now.” We are surrounded by “instant” access and response. Examples abound from text messaging, self-service checkouts, automatic bill paying, and instant quotes for services.  Companies are striving hard to save seconds on transactions to create competitive advantages.  Time has become a prized asset and is clearly worth more to an array of stakeholders who seem to want it ‘now.’

In a world with a 24×7 orientation, reduced barriers of time and space due to technology-driven reach and access, and systemic impatience, speed is more important than ever.  Agility and flexibility have become critical leader and organizational competencies.  To become truly agile, an organization must embrace speed as a reality and infuse their operations with speed and dexterity with a strong dose of constant vigilance to changes in the ecosystem. Companies must be flexible to alter approaches and methods in response to new intelligence.

Organizations today are under intense scrutiny from a variety of stakeholders that include customers, suppliers, employees, regulators, community activists, and governance officials. It has been called “The Spotlight Era.” Systemic impatience due to the ‘now’ orientation has led to a constant demand for results.

There is a need for leaders to be able to lead at speeds that may have been uncomfortable in the past. Patience may not be the virtue it used to be, nor can leaders be passive in this environment.  Leaders must find a way to balance speed with discipline, foresight, common sense, and purpose.

Adaptability, tenacity, courage, endurance, humor, tolerance for ambiguity, and the capacity to live in paradox are all needed as we move into the ever-shifting present. This rapid pace of change and the challenges of technology, globalization, and competition are changing the workplace and demand new leadership competencies or at least an evolution of traditional competencies. There is more expected of leaders today. They must lead and deliver results against this demanding, fast-paced, and impatient backdrop. It is against this backdrop that we offer our suggested competencies for leaders in the 21st century. These Leaderocity competencies have substantive intersections with the RBLP certification competencies.

Dr. Rick Dool is RBLP-T certified. He personally developed the chart below to show how the Leaderocity competencies are related to RBLP certification competencies.

Leaderocity CompetenciesRelated RBLP Certification Competencies
VisionaryProvide Purpose (LT 1 & 6) Support Organizational Learning (LT 2)
ExemplarCreate A Positive Climate (LT 6) Develop Cohesion (LT 5, 6 & 7)
CommunicatorWeaves through all the RBLP 7 Modules
InclutionistCreate A Positive Climate (LT 3) Develop Cohesion (LT 5)
AmbassadorCreate A Positive Climate (LT 2 & 6)
Change AgentDevelop Cohesion (LT 6 & 7) Facilitate Team Learning (LT 4)
ConnectorCreate A Positive Climate (LT 1) Develop Cohesion (LT 1 & 2) Provide Purpose (LT 3) Facilitate Team Learning (LT 1)
Talent ManagerProvide Purpose (LT 1, 2 & 5)
Coach and MentorWeaves through all RBLP 7 Modules
ProducerCreate A Positive Climate (LT 4 & 7) Provide Purpose (LT 5) Facilitate Team Learning (LT 2)

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Share this book with your network. Tell them how it relates to one or more of the Resilience-Building Leader Program competency domains of Create Positive Climate, Develop Cohesion, Provide Purpose, Facilitate Team Learning, and Support Organizational Learning.