As we heard at the Techonomy 2017 conference, technology and the “convergence of man and machine” (the conference theme) has completely transformed the way we run business today—including the way we think, plan, create, sell, supply, communicate and compete. Every day brings new challenges; the only thing we know for sure is that the pace of change will not slow down.
Technology and social media have transformed not only the way we do business, but the way in which we must lead. Decentralized control, intense scrutiny and pressure to deliver, and changes in the way leaders are measured and perceived call for a new and expanded set of competencies. The pace at which leaders become inundated with data and must digest and adapt to change also creates a new level of stress. What is now required is an entirely new approach to developing executives, one that builds and preserves mental and emotional resilience, physical well-being and character-centered leadership.
Leaders now need:
- Mental and emotional resilience – “Resilience” is more than just a buzzword. It is key to developing the capacity to navigate through the stress inherent in holding a leadership position. Just as a runner might train for a marathon, executives need to train to increase their capacity and build their resilience.
- Physical well-being – Making time for exercise, nutrition and sleep is needed both for health and performance. The first mistake executives often make is not realizing how critical these three elements are to effective and sustainable leadership. They also need to build recovery breaks (strategic movement, snacks, mindfulness) into their schedules.
- Character – Nothing tests and reveals a person’s true character like being under pressure. The decisions those in the C-suite are required to make on a moment-by-moment basis can have disruptive consequences—if they falter, it could lead to loss of money or jobs. Leading with integrity, honesty and trustworthiness is key.
Global Head of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute Lowinn Kibbey noted during the Techonomy 2017 Leadership Breakfast Session that senior leaders can successfully and sustainably respond to massive, constant external change only if they have the internal strategies and tools to manage the overwhelming pace and stress.
Mental and emotional resilience is just the beginning. Character-based behaviors and decision making are more and more impacting company performance and shareholder value. Character is not static or unalterable; character is a muscle that can be built. In the same seamless way that biceps and triceps work together, leaders need to be able to oscillate between character traits such as humility and confidence, decisiveness, and empathy.
While the health and well-being of the C-suite is of central importance to the success of organizations big and small, it’s also an important reminder for all those seeking or holding leadership roles of any level to proactively invest in their own wellness. You cannot separate the success of a company from the balance of its leadership.
Caren Kenney is Executive Director of Premier Executive Leadership™ at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, which has over 30 years of research and results in the field of high performance and energy management, working with professional athletes, military Special Forces and Fortune 500 CEOs. Premier Executive Leadership™ is an exclusive executive development and well-being program designed to prepare top global leaders to thrive in their roles, while maintaining perspective and balance.