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Taking control in an uncertain world


“There is a huge nemesis in the environment with a massive pace of change, the level of complexity is enormous and everything is going faster in unpredictable ways”.
That’s the view of one CEO interviewed out of the 130 C-Suite executive respondents to the 2014 Stephenson Mansell Group’s study of executive attitudes on Leadership and Resilience.  It was a common view, with the vast majority of respondents citing business uncertainty and productivity pressures as substantial issues.

In summary, we face increased globalisation and disruption from new technologies, placing greater expectations on our business leaders. When we asked what’s critical to effective leadership, resilience, self-awareness and strategic thinking were the traits seen as most important. Likewise, the inability to act within an ambiguous environment and to focus on short-term business issues were seen as the biggest leadership derailers.

It’s a lot to ask of our leaders – they need to steer the ship through ongoing and unpredictable change, whilst appearing in control. They have to have vision and direction, but be prepared to change direction as the environment changes, all the time unphased by what comes their way.

So, how do you build a leader suitable for today’s working environment? The study gave some clear insights: lots of coaching, feedback and development, and less in the way of generic solutions and large scale generic programs.  Moving forward in bite-sized chunks, with constant monitoring, gains impact and sustainable outcomes.

Such an approach is often counter-intuitive to leaders who climbed the corporate ladder pursuing a very specific vision, managing extensive projects and with their eyes set on long-term outcomes.

Executives need to have the self-awareness to understand their effectiveness in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Our research shows that resilience is a critical leadership requirement. How are you seeing that play out in your organisation?

An article on our research recently featured on HC Online.


Best regards,
Virginia Mansell

About the author: Virginia Mansell, Executive Chairman, Stephenson Mansell Group.

Virginia Mansell is an expert and thought leader in executive coaching, mentoring and leadership.  She is the author of The Focused Executive, an important resource for CEOs and senior executives determined to perform at their very best. The 2nd Edition is now available with a new chapter on high performing teams.

In 1998, Virginia established The Mansell Group to provide coaching and leadership development services.  In 2005, she merged this business with The Stephenson Partnership to create Stephenson Mansell Group, arguably Australia’s longest-established executive development firm.  Over the last fifteen years, the Stephenson Mansell Group has worked with 5000 executives in more than 500 organisations in Australia and internationally including 30 of Australia’s top 50 companies.

In addition to her own experience as a business leader, Virginia brings to her role over 30 years in human resource management, counselling psychology, psychotherapy and organisational consulting.