Are you, as an individual, ready to lead in the Disruption Economy?


Didier Marlier

November 28, 2014

From Disruption to Engagement

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Now, if even the “usual suspects” in strategy consultancies (who still hire people mainly on quantitative tests as far as they are concerned) are getting into the arena of Leadership Development and telling others how they should do it differently, this may mean that those firms start to understand the vital importance of human capital and leadership or… that business is missing and they need to find new sources of revenues.

Roselinde Torres is a partner with such a firm, where she advises clients on which new skills to develop in their leaders of tomorrow. I suggest you jump the self-promoting bit and go directly to 4’47’’in the timeline when things start to become really interesting.

Roselinde suddenly becomes credible and wakes my sympathy and interest. Rather than, presumptuously come with a ready cooked recipe about “What makes the leaders in the 21st century?”, she comes with three questions.

  • Where are you looking, to anticipate change?: “Who do you spend time with? On which topics? Where are you traveling? What are you reading and… how to you distill this to understand potential discontinuities?” Now Roselinde has got my full attention: Moving from strategy to strategize, scanning the periphery, creating a body-like intelligent organization and looking for the unusual are different ways to look at the same theme. Yes, leaders of tomorrow will need to move from an advocacy position, full of certainty, closure, decision making urge, to one of exploration, questioning, curiosity and letting the right decision emerge. We are moving from a context of “Leading when I know” or when I should have known, where strategy means guessing the future, to a world of “Leading when I don’t know”, where strategizing means preparing ourselves for whatever future comes our way.
  • What is the diversity measure of your network?: I first had a “Oh No!” reaction… Pleeease Roselinde do not disappoint us with the usual, politically correct “diversity thing”. I am a strong proponent that, given the mess that males got our planet in, we must let wemen take far more of a leadership position. I watch with a wide smile Iceland getting out of the worse financial crisis of its History under the leadership of wemen. But do not serve us the flat and tasteless dish of diversity: Well I was wrong again! “What is the quality of your professional stakeholder network? How capable and willing are you to go from a “old boys network” mentality to having the capacity to develop relationships with people that are very different from you?” I was back… In a complex environment, in a global world, in an context where paradoxes and contradictions flourish, what is the richness of my network? Yesterday, I was called by a sharp minded executive working for a well-known software brand. We talked about the future. At the end, I was surprised to hear him ask: “What are your sources of knowledge? Which magazines and newspaper should I subscribe to, in order to have that variety of information? Once I came back on Earth, I realized that, for the past months, I had unsubscribed to the traditional media (H.B.R. since years already, major newspapers, magazines) and was picking a lot of diverse information from my connections and favourite streams on… Facebook. I looked at the variety of my network there and it ranged (as I have decided to leave the arrogant and IP/Privacy/Intimacy stealing network of Mr. Zuckerberg by year end for another more associative alternative called TSU) from very young Brazilian adolescents, most of them coming from an Institution we supported there, to partners in multinational law firms and consultancies, medical doctors, sports people, musicians, artists, gay advocates, extreme left and nationalist rightists supporters… My Facebook stream still produces 90/95% of trash and 5 to 10% gold nuggets that I can’t even all follow. We will soon be worth what the quality of our personal and professional network is. Well spotted Roselinde!
  • Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?: Absolutely! Some years ago, Korn Ferry, the Executive Search company, had done a search over 327’000 profiles they had in file and tried to identify why some would sky rocket in their careers and why others would flatten or stop. The single common element that came out the strongest was that one: How willing are you to challenge your past winning formula?  Interestingly enough, Campbell’s most painful step in the Hero’s Journey, is the “Crossing of the Threshold” which is exactly about that!

So do you now still believe that sending your talents on a traditional MBA (and the day you find one which isn’t traditional, please let me know!) will prepare them to answer to those questions? Do you seriously think that traditional training, class room sessions, Board Rooms presentations, one shot events are what will prepare your leaders for the future? It is time to challenge the assumptions we have about “what makes the stuff of leaders” in the Disruption Economy and transform our development, assessment and talent management practices as well as our own styles…

I almost forgot to mention, Roselinde is a respected partner of B.C.G., a firm dear to the heart of my friend Roland. Well done Roland!


  1. Gabriela Jardim

    Didier, do you know what impressed me more? To know that Enablers already have some cases which proves the efficiency of this kind of leadership development, through powerful partnerships with Gerd Leohnard and Taig Khris, for example.

    Anyhow, is always great to know that there are more people sharing our believes. Especially in a such respected consultancy.

    Thanks, once more, for coming back and to share this inspiring video!

    Have a nice week!

    • Didier Marlier

      Thank you Gabriela,
      I have a strong intuition that continuing to develop leaders in a classical way, at business school or through corporate universities, will be a… disaster.
      Indeed, working with “atypical” personalities, is probably one of the Enablers richness: Anthropologist, Army officers, Classical Music Conductor, Futurists, Journalists, Models, Psychologists or Sports people is something I am proud of and that enriches us considerably.
      I hope you are well. You will be forever a member of the “family”!


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