Leading in a Volatile Society


The question of effective leadership continues to plaque modern society.  This month, the captain of a cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Italy has received public scrutiny.  The cruise ship, Costa Concordia, had more than 4,200 people aboard when it hit a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Panic filled the ship; cruise workers appeared unprepared for the emergency. Yet, the biggest casualty was leadership.  Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning his vessel during its ground. 

Tapes were released of a conversation between the cruise captain and a coast guard officer who demanded the captain return to the ship: “What are you doing? Are you abandoning the rescue…Get back on board now (expletive) sake!”  What has been abandoned globally is the lack of effective leadership in a volatile society.

Today’s workers exist in a volatile world. According to the Forrester Research, approximately 3.3 million jobs and $136 billion in wages could be moved overseas to countries like India or China by 2015. In fact, many developing countries are projected to continue to grow strongly over the next decade.

Furthermore, these countries steadily shift to consumer-led growth instead of export-led growth.  The dollar spiral downward and foreign currency goes upward.  China and India have added millions to their labor force creating products as well as outsourcing their services abroad at a fraction of what American workers can provide. 

These upstart countries are positioning themselves to become the next Super Power.  The middle class hold their breath as the threat of more job cuts become a reality, thereby further eroding their quality of life. Yet, business executives express little moral remorse as they keep American workers at bay.   

There needs to be a different type of leadership in a volatile world. Today’s hypercompetitive environment needs high performance organizations to sustain market success. Yet, many organizations operate from the same business structure from the Industrial Revolution.

In this setting, managers oversee workers to control their performance due to the fact that managers believe workers are inferior and have no passion to work. Yet, most workers are willing to work if they are placed in a position to be successful and there are shared rewards.

Yet, I have heard too many complaints about bad bosses and uncaring organizations. There are too many managers and organizations that do not value the importance of their employees.

These same managers are great at distributing tasks but are unsuccessful at motivating their own workers.  Therefore, future leaders will need to be able to navigate global markets while inspiring their workers.

What characteristics are needed for today’s leaders in a volatile environment?

 © 2012 by Daryl D. Green

6 thoughts on “Leading in a Volatile Society

  1. Leadership in today’s society needs patience! With the globalization of business, fast paced practices, and customers that wanted it yesterday, leaders must understand the importance of patience. Patience is a quality often lacking among today’s leaders. Society expects those in charge to take action quickly and decisively. True leaders recognize that patience enables them to take stock of the situation, to understand what is required, and wait while they build the capacity to take appropriate and effective action (Moran, 2010). The question then becomes, how does a leader integrate patience into their personality and business practices? One simple way is to always learn about leadership, read books, and attend seminars. Patience is a personality trait that is debatably learned. If a leader does not have the patience trait it is a trait that must be practiced on a daily basis.

    Moran, J. (2010, February 02). Leader with patience – the will to wait. Retrieved from http://ifyouwilllead.net/2010/02/02/leading-with-patience-–-the-will-to-wait/

  2. I think that compassion is needed in today’s leaders. These are volatile times and there is a lot of uncertainty and change going on amidst increasing demands. Companies are expecting their employees to do more with fewer resources. The managers at these companies need to remember that no matter how intense the nature of the job gets, employees are people first. Undoubtedly, the same things that are putting a strain on industry are affecting workers’ lives at home in one way or the other. Many companies have increased the diversity of their workforces. Also, this is the first time in American history that we have had four different generations working side-by-side in the workplace. Compassion is needed for leaders to be able to adequately address all of the different human factors that these individuals bring. The financial incentives that employees receive is not a green light to ever disrespect or treat an employee as less than a person. Leaders need to build trust in their teams so that they can get the best out of them. When employees feel like their leader cares and has their best interest in mind, they will generally endeavor to do a good job.

    Hammill, G. (2005) Mixing and Managing Four Generation of of Employers. Retrieved from http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/generations.htm

  3. The ancient philosopher Epictetus is reported to have said nearly 2,000 years ago, “Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig. I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen” (Gallozzi, 2011). To achieve organizational goals leaders must be willing to wait for the “work to ripen.” As far as teaching patience, it must be an internal want/need by the organization’s leader. If a leader does not have patience it will be hard for them to attain patience if the desire to be patient is not currently in place. The term “teaching” patience may not be the correct term but learning patience might be the most efficient medium for patience.

    Gazzolli, C. (2011). Learning patience. Retrieved from http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/patience.htm

  4. While taking classes throughout my MBA I have seen that leadership is a learned behavior. I will admit that many traits of leadership are inherently part of your personality which makes some leaders better than others, but I will also state that true leadership is knowing your abilities, understanding leadership, and then executing the strategy that works best with your skills and objectives. Leadership does not always have to come from a position of authority. We all possess the capacity for leadership, but only those who cultivate it will ever become truly effective leaders (Leadership Development, 2012). That is what America needs, effective leaders. Please consider taking on more of a leadership role within your life and help influence people for the betterment of society and America.

    Leadership development. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.leadershipnow.com/

  5. The two most important traits that I feel contribute to great leadership are motivation and passion. I believe that when a leader truly has a vested interest in what he or she is trying to accomplish, this passion is seen by his/her followers. Dorothy Tannahill-Moran’s article, “5 Leadership Qualities You Can Develop to Help You Get Promoted” cites that “Leaders don’t hang back… Leaders take responsibility… Leaders have initiative… Leaders communicate openly and honestly… Leaders believe in what’s possible…” as traits that can be developed by those seeking leadership. I believe that by being motivated to accomplish one’s job or goal and the true desire to do so will result in each of these. As an employee, I believe that it is easier to work for a boss that actively lives these traits.

    Tannahill-Moran, D. (2012). 5 leadership qualities you can develop to help you get promoted. MBA Highway. Retrieved from http://mbahighway.com/2012/02/5-leadership-qualities-you-can-develop-to-help-you-get-promoted/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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