The term “disruption” has become a staple of discussion surrounding twenty-first-century economics.

The current industrial revolution requires that we change how we think about even the most entrenched business processes.

The internet has changed nearly everything about how business is transacted – including in the most non-technical businesses.

As we experience the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the physical and the digital worlds converge, new ways of doing business are replacing old ways. When I spoke to the World Business Forum in Sydney, Australia in 2016, I said that success today is in direct proportion to our ability to embrace disruptive thinking, and I believe that just as strongly today. Here is a clip from that event:

Why Does Disruptive Leadership Matter So Much Today?

Disruptive leadership isn’t just important today, it is indispensable. We don’t buy books the way we did 20 years ago, we don’t manage bank accounts like we used to, and we’ve even changed how we get around cities and how we diagnose diseases. Since we don’t do things the way we used to, we can’t lead the way we used to.

Even in middle management, where incrementalism and risk management have traditionally been rewarded, leaders must embrace disruption, because many traditional processes are inadequate to the demands of the future. Leaders who take risks and that reward disruptive innovation are the ones that will create the most value in our increasingly digital future.

How Do Leaders Embrace Disruption?

Leaders embrace disruption by ensuring that all fundamental business processes happen while at the same time demonstrating that they value disruption. Suppliers still have to be paid, and employees still need to be able to do things like schedule vacation time. All these basic business processes still have to take place. But at the same time, businesses must be open to changing how those things are done, taking advantage of technology and understanding how attitudes and markets are constantly evolving.

Businesses must not be afraid to employ people who are capable and willing to disrupt things, and this may require significant changes to the corporate culture. Leaders must model behaviors like commitment to continuous learning, willingness to change, looking for answers and talent in unexpected places, and learning to replace “No.” with “How?” And they must expect those behaviors in others.

Asking how instead of immediately saying no is one way to embrace disruption.

Why Leadership Coaching Helps Leaders Embrace Disruption

Leaders who don’t embrace disruption will ultimately find themselves left behind. By contrast, leaders who break barriers, liberate talent, model disruptive behavior, and reward innovation will move both themselves and their organizations ahead.

Leadership coaching can be a tremendously valuable investment for leaders who are reluctant to embrace disruption. Learning to recognize limiting behaviors and change them is a key component in many leadership coaching relationships. Knowing that you should do something can be a far cry from actually doing it, and leadership coaching is about practicing key skills until they become encoded into everyday life. Embracing disruption is a skill like any other in that it requires learning how, and then practicing it until it becomes integral to day-to-day operation.

Disruption Is Here to Stay

Disruption isn’t going away. There are too many people throughout the world who think, “Why do we do things this way when technology allows us to approach it from an entirely new and better direction?” Without disruption we wouldn’t have Amazon, the iPhone, LED lighting, Skype, or countless other technologies we use every day.

When leadership embraces disruption, short-term gains may be sacrificed for long-term success, and yes, egos may be bruised. But the world simply won’t wait around while old and inefficient methods of doing business proceed at their frustrating pace. Leaders who embrace disruption recognize this and even celebrate it, because they know their future depends on it. If you would like to learn more about disruptive leadership and the changes that go along with it, I invite you to learn more about my corporate culture transformation advisory services.

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