Are you updating your leadership competencies in times of disruption?

Are you updating your leadership competencies in times of disruption?  

Very few organizations are spared the titanic waves of business disruption today because of digital innovation.  Initiating transformational changes within a compressed timeframe often mean cutting deep into an organization’s core competencies, finances, human resources and even core values.  As a consequence, organizational structures are often reconfigured with many people being displaced (jobs and men are made redundant) and/or replaced (jobs taken over by new hires with the right competencies). 

Transformational change is often contextual, and the toughest challenge is often not in developing the change strategy nor planning, but in execution especially with respect to leading change through people.  One key aspect often overlooked is the redefinition of leadership competencies in times of disruption.  The demands for transformational leadership in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world are inevitably different from a leader who operates in a relatively predictable albeit competitive environment.

Let’s cast our minds back into the distant past before we peep into the near future.  At the start of the industrial revolution in the 20th century, Frederick W. Taylor published "The Principles of Scientific Management".  He purported that a successful manager is one who promotes efficiency through work methods, train and discipline the laisser-faire workforce.  The world has since moved from industrial to informational and now to digital age. In today’s VUCA world, Leaders need to:

  • Have foresight based on perceptual acuity
  • Be courageous to face the unknown
  • Lead an organization that is unstable and ever-changing
  • Engage diverse groups of people with minimal facetime

The leadership competencies that were relevant in the past have to evolve with emerging leadership challenges. Using Capelle’s STAR Performer framework, some of the key leadership competencies could be:


While competencies may change when the nature of job expected of a leader, standard of performance and operating environment shift, there are timeless leadership attributes such as Integrity and Modelling the way that span across different societal eras. 

The pertinent question to ask is: “Is there a need to conduct a review to update our leadership competencies in times of disruption?”  Once the leadership competencies are updated, organizations might want to embark on leadership development initiatives to help senior executives to improve their performance and learning gaps either through feedback, executive coaching and/or 360-degree feedback.  In addition, there are implications in the recruitment of young talents to meet the leadership pipeline needs.