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The five capabilities of Leadership 4.0

Leaders need different capabilities to face a world where systems of production, governance and management are being transformed.

The advent of aFourth Industrial Revolutionbrings conditions of ‘radical uncertainty’, where leaderscannot describe accurately the characteristics of the situations they are in. Past approaches to problems may not be relevant and the consequences of their actions are not predictable.

In our research他们告诉我们,他们告诉我们,在这种情况下,他们can influence events better through a different set of capabilities. Our work suggests that a move is needed away from 'heroic' individualistic leadership (ego leadership) towards a leadership that recognises the organisation as a system nested in a broader ecosystem (eco-leadership).

To achieve this shift five key capabilities are required in additional to the more conventional ones:


Leading is a conversation.领导4.0 is as much about facilitating and enabling as directing.当今的领导者需要使用正确的语言,并积极表明他们正在听。当领导者讲话时,效果不仅是描述给定的现实,而且是改变这种社会现实。领导者通过故意确保正确的人之间发生正确的对话来塑造和发展组织。Crafting a story about who we are, where we are going, why we are doing this, who we are doing it for, is a more effective form of influence than hierarchical authority.


Build networked knowledge.Knowledge exists in networks and collective capabilities as much as in individuals. Diverse groups produce better solutions than homogenous groups. Leadership is less about providing the answer, more about releasing and connecting the knowledge that already exists. Leaders must identify gaps in their understanding and fill these gaps with the views of others, both internally and externally. Create the conditions in which others can take up leadership roles. Decentralised problem-solving is key to success.

3. Nudge the context

正确的环境创造了正确的行为。Leaders are like farmers. Farmers don’t grow crops, they create the situations for crops to grow. Leaders need to understand the context and trends influencing their organisations and bring the voices of customers and stakeholders into it. Leaders must influence and persuade without relying on formal authority, and use external stakeholders and the voice of customers to pressure their organisations. By regularly making links between the everyday actions of individuals and teams with the overall strategy and purpose of the organisation, leaders can create the right conditions for success and fill the void left by an absence of hierarchical power.

4. Co-create structure

Structures must respond to changing situations.应对不确定和快速变化的世界需要敏捷性。形式化和过度僵化的结构创造了保守主义的来源,并冒着在一个动荡的世界中成为限制的风险。完美结构的想法具有误导性。结构应由期望的结果和与所涉人员合作塑造。领导者必须建立结构,通过委派责任和拥抱临时结构来实现代理和参与,但仍准备承担整体成果的责任。


Embrace conflicting value systems.组织一系列的different and sometimes incompatible value systems within them - these differences can be a rich source of creativity and innovation. Leaders need to actively work with the plurality in their organisations and actively encourage collaboration and debate by creating the psychological safety needed for new voices to speak up without fear of criticism or ridicule. Encourage employees to bring more of their external identities into the organisation to develop new thinking. The task of the leader is to create a feedback-rich environment - seek feedback frequently and encourage others in the organisation to do the same

Social change needs new leadership capabilities


This is the second of two articles on new research carried out byJon Stokes, Associate Scholar at OxfordSaïd,苏·多普森, Professor of Organisational Behaviour. Thefirst in the seriesconsidered the changed context for leaders today.Downloadthe full report.

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