Enterprise leadership: Managing business in the age of disruption

Which qualities will define leadership in the age of digital disruption? Gone are the days where the ‘top-down’ approach was seen as the most effective way to lead. This is where management determines organisational change and provides the strategy for employees to implement.

The workplace is changing – so too is the style of leadership that senior professionals are adopting to help lead and manage their teams. An ‘open’ approach to successful leadership involves engaging in business operations as active participants when making and shaping decisions. Known as enterprise leadership, this approach is inclusive, participative and becoming more relevant in today’s current climate.

What’s spurred this change?

Leadership is not immune to the effects of change in our global business marketplace. Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), organisations have cut costs by removing layers of management. According to CEB global research, 13 per cent of leadership positions were eliminated in the past year and 31 per cent of leaders in newly created positions. What this means is more work and responsibility spread across fewer roles, often across different timezones. As competition is heightened, it becomes increasingly important for leaders to be prepared for shifts in technology, communication and operations, and apply a holistic approach to their work.

Aside from structural and organisational change, the behaviour of leaders is also changing. Delivering on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) has always been important for leaders and managers, with flow-on implications for remuneration or incentives. The focus on personal performance can often be at the expense of an organisation’s overall success. Executives are becoming more aware of this and are pushing for broader business success, rather than individual success, to be the top priority.

Of note, the research also indicated that less than one-third of department and business units are led by professionals equipped to meet future demands. Further education can be a way for these professionals to advance into leadership roles, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to tackle complex business problems and apply strategies to help drive change throughout the wider organisation.

Characteristics of an enterprise leader

Enterprise leadership has the potential to transform and drive company-wide performance. It is, therefore, critical that organisations adapt and encourage this culture among its leadership group.

A successful enterprise leader has a combination of high individual performance with the ability to add value to an organisation by concurrently leveraging off support from other leaders and senior members. This implies that it’s very much about utilising the knowledge and expertise that can be found from within the business, and sometimes from outside, to help deliver the best results.

Here are a few key traits found in effective enterprise leaders:

  • They listen to feedback
  • They leverage and mobilise ideas from across departments, even outside their organisations
  • They are less directive, more empowering
  • They will cultivate necessary skills and capabilities from within their workforce
  • They often seek specific, relevant expertise when it is needed.

Furthermore, the CEB research found that enterprise leaders tend to create teams that are 68 per cent more innovative, 35 per cent more engaged and 21 per cent more adaptive. This positive response flows onto the customer base as well, with teams who had an enterprise leader scoring 1.2 times higher on customer satisfaction.

The challenge for business owners and executives will be managing this new style of leadership, but ultimately will help move their company into the twenty-first century. Encouraging postgraduate study will enable promising employees to develop a skillset that helps them meet an increasing demand for well-rounded leaders. An online MBA gives employees the leading edge that employers are looking for, along with the flexibility of working and studying simultaneously.

Discover more about our online postgraduate business courses or speak to a dedicated Student Enrolment Advisor on 1300 589 882.