Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Are You a People Leader, a Thought Leader, or Both?

Volume: July 2018

Many leaders are people leaders. They guide workflow, delegate, enhance collaboration and deliver important results. They do more than manage, they truly lead their team in a positive direction. There are also thought leaders. They consider the future and communicate a vision to their people. They coach and develop their people in unique and personalized ways. In sum, thought leaders challenge their people to think, to grow, and to be agile.
Most leaders who are reading this newsletter are both. You seek balance in all things and realize your organization needs a healthy mix of management that delivers pragmatic results, coupled with an eye to the future. You understand that leadership reinvention and re-thinking the structure of your organization are activities to engage in regularly. There is nothing wrong with a leader being skewed to one side (people leadership) or the other (thought leadership). However, if you are the big cheese (official consulting word), you better make certain that the C-Level of your organization contains both people leaders and thought leaders. Here are four reasons organizations need a healthy, balanced mix of both.

  1. Marketplaces are Changing. Technological advances and cultural change are altering the look and feel of products, as well as the delivery of services. Just look at the volume of groceries that Amazon delivers daily. It’s mind-numbing. Especially when compared with the minimal volume of home grocery delivery 10 years ago. In the coming years, your industry will undergo tremendous changes. Many of the changes will be sparked by advancements in the fields of artificial intelligence, health sciences, robotics, and globalization trends. If you don’t believe your market will change, ask yourself these questions, “Is our marketplace the same as it was 10 years ago? Five years ago? Heck, maybe even two years ago?” Stay ahead of changes in your marketplace by engaging in smart strategic planning and a regular reinvention process. Coming off of your strategic planning and reinvention process (i.e., thought leadership), you can execute meaningful action plans (i.e., people leadership).  
  2. Competition is Getting Smarter. Not only are your competitors gaining in strength, but they are getting bolder. Odds are good that you have new competitors who were not even in your marketplace a few years ago. And they are not just dipping their toe into your space. They are hard-charging. Consider Amazon again. They have now entered the prescription distribution space. Established stalwarts such as Walgreen’s and CVS are not happy about this new, formidable competitor. It is okay if your organization is reacting to a changing competitive landscape. However, there is trouble if you are not anticipating what your marketplace will look like in two years. In this regard, thought leaders are ideating on how to shape or compete in what lies ahead. On the other hand, people leaders are retaining and searching for the right mix of team members to provide innovative future products and services to a dynamic customer base.
  3. Talent is Tougher. To find. To keep. To grow. Organizations need a healthy mix of people leadership and thought leadership to attract, retain and advance the available talent in today’s marketplace. Thought leaders visualize the type of team members that will be needed in the future. They also picture the skills and tools with which their workforce will need to be armed. People leaders go get them. They recruit. They conduct behavioral interviews. They ensure that proper onboarding happens. People leaders also retool and inspire current team members. In order to grow existing talent and attract future talent, organizations need to be on top of their thought leadership and people leadership game.
  4. The Future is Scorchingly Bright. If you are not excited about the times in which we live, you have been sucked in by waaaay too much sensationalistic media. We are on the cusp of a multitude of technology and AI breakthroughs. There are medical advances taking place that will be transformational. You know, the first person who will live to be 150 years old has been born. They will experience more than a century of good health. Fascinating. As the future unfolds, will there be economic and marketplace hiccups? You betcha. Our organizations as we know them are going to be transformed. If that sounds scary to you, get over it. Change is coming. If transformational change in your industry sounds invigorating to you, good. You probably have the right mindset and tools to take your organization in the right direction. Be positive and prepared regarding the future.

Bottom Line: Leaders today need to be exceptionally talented and well-trained. Today’s leaders need to not only be excellent people leaders, but they must ensure that their organizations have proper thought leadership. The organizations with a healthy mix of thought and people leadership will be best positioned to succeed in the exciting future marketplace. What about those organizations that are not positioned correctly? Can anybody say “dinosaur.” Look to the future, leaders. Be agile and anticipatory. And for goodness sake, have a little fun in the process.

Until next time, be well.

Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based leadership development expert, executive coach, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching, strategic planning, or to have Doug speak at your next event, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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