Enabling leadership


The digital infrastructure has improved exponentially, and as individuals and consumers we have adopted new functionalities and habits. Direct access and ‘tailor made for me’ are the expectations of customers today. We let go of the CD with a solid track list, some people started using Pirate Bay and then we got Spotify with personal or collaborative playlists. This development affects companies at full force. From the 1900s we have a legacy of organizations and management that, in the pursuit of efficiency, are streamlined and bureaucratic. Such organizations are not adaptive enough to match the development, to deal with challenges and opportunities outside the company’s walls. And there is a law that also applies to companies: survival of the fittest, the most adaptive.

This implies that we cannot afford a gap between the context and the organization, between customer demand and internal processes. Several variations of gaps are present in the bureaucracies:

· Gaps in the contact between different departments or business areas (silos) that causes cases to fall between chairs and be time-consuming.

· Gaps between strategy/vision and our full calendars. A fog that invades the space between what the individual employee is doing and the overall purpose of the business is neither effective nor engaging.

· Gaps between different individuals who do not communicate. Which is not necessarily due to geographical distances but may originate in reward structures that give rise to competition at the expense of collaboration.

Everyone working with service knows that value is created in the interaction. There is a lot being said about “top-down” and “bottom-up”, but value creation takes place in the middle, in the inbetween-spaces. When we combine diverse competencies, when we bridge innovation and organization, when there is a line-of-sight between strategy and action. Therefore, we need to unveil a leadership style that has not received much attention: the enabling leadership. It is about creating the conditions for knowledge integration and value creation. Managing tensions and finding a way forward; there will always be some extra friction in heterogeneous groups, even so, properly managed the results are superior. The enabling leader discontinue old work practices that block resources (and hinder innovation) to free up energy and focus on what is truly important: Be responsive to customer needs and other signals in the market and society. The enabling leader provides opportunities for individuals to grow and to create value.