Adaptation and resilience in leadership, in times of relentless disruption

Enabling employees to work remotely is an idea with history. Dell Technologies initiated the Connected Workplace Program, a worldwide implementation of remote workforce solutions a few years ago. We researched it, we developed it, and we made it real. Fast forward to 2020, and just as the new decade dawned, the entire planet was engulfed in the sudden reality of implementing this type of solutions in environments where limited prior experience was available. Thanks to our early provisions and systematic deployment of remote work and distributed infrastructure, we are in a position, today, to offer our partners, customers and indeed all communities, a robust, already proven and tested way to quickly overcome their problems and re-organize to adapt to the new situation.

 From enablement to success

For the leading teams – apart from the advanced planning – these solutions can be effective only through agile and adaptive leadership, which makes us adopt bold strategies to keep up in a global market of accelerating disruptions and global-scale eventualities.

A continuous and productive debate and discussion provides us with insights as to the key points and main factors of what this leadership should look like in the years to come. One important takeout is that leaders must not only develop new skills, but also elevate the quality of their leadership and provide their employees with work environments that maximize their performance and avoid burnout and overload, especially in very demanding and stressful periods. Human resilience is a massive contributor to a successful business workflow – even the most technologically advanced infrastructures will crumble if the workforce suffers or compromised by health, safety, and other related issues that threaten our well-being.

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Rethinking our sacred mantras

Another essential prerequisite for impactful and productive leadership is to be very cautious of our “sacred mantras” that we so closely follow and adhere to. In our efforts to keep on innovating and producing the next big thing, we often lose touch with our core principles – those misconceptions and delusions about fundamental concepts like “disruption”. The man who introduced the visionary idea of disruption in business, Clayton M. Christensen, warns us that not every sector and every business behaves and adapts to disruption the same way. If the leaders fail to integrate insights from research and experience into the original theory of disruption, then managers will eventually follow the wrong strategies. Instead of reaching success, they will move further away from the target.

Indeed, the responsibilities and the burdens of senior executives, decision-makers especially at the C-level, call for constant evaluation and careful examination at multiple levels:

  • Not only do they have to manage today’s business models, but also be future-ready.
  • Not only retain the best talent in a complex labor market, but attract new pools of highly skilled and productive collaborators.
  • Not only increase productivity and promote new levels of innovation in teamwork, but also streamline and avoid overtly complex workflows.
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Leading by example

The specific leadership attributes that meet the demands of disrupted business environments have always been a hot topic of argumentation and different theoretical approaches. For me, it is rather clear that a competent and effective leader should combine excellent communication skills and a clear sense of vision and perspective that they can transmit to their partners, customers, suppliers, employees, and the entire ecosystem of business engagement. Leading by example, is my preferred style of communication, especially in turbulent times.

Internally, the same eagerness to engage in fruitful and productive dialogue with the team members will reveal how open-minded the leader is. Admitting we are not an oracle that knows everything, means that sometimes we have to yield to more informed opinions by colleagues who have better specialization and expertise in certain domains. This is critical across the board, from decisions regarding HR and hiring practices, to adjusting production volumes or re-orienting supply chains.

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Human sustainability and resilience

Embracing agility as part of our business ethos and culture, is on the epicenter of our efforts here at Dell Technologies. That’s why our core mission in our pivotal workforce transformation project, is not just about building a better and adaptable technology foundation, but creating a better working environment. Planning with sustainability and resiliency in mind is not restricted in our production and operational methods but is focused on human sustainability and resiliency. The most valuable resource is of the human variety, and our well-being and inner balance are vital. That’s why there is a deep ethical aspect in staying closer to customers, partners and colleagues, not just in the context of a business transaction, but as a broader symbiotic relationship, within a community sharing the same goals, aspirations, values, and vision for a better world, with the help of technology.

About the Author: Jasmina Stritar