Leadership trends

The Fourth Industrial Revolution demanded that CEOs take responsibility for the massive transformation of their businesses and for the astonishing impact that this transformation will have on the wider society and all the stakeholders. Success requires CEOs to develop the right leadership capabilities, workforce skills, and corporate cultures to support digital transformation and become agile to face the many uncertainties. A revolution in skills and a transformation of organizations is highly needed to sustain one’s presence in the marketplace.

According to blessingwhite.com, those who take into account individual values and personal differences while creating an environment of shared responsibility create a place where individuals enjoy work more and become more productive. Hence, the leadership trends that support transformation in the market and the economy are the following:

  • Coach and be ready to be coached: employees rely on the support of their companies to take on business challenges. Empowering employees makes them more innovative and intrapreneurial in addition to increasing their sense of belonging to the company. Empowerment should be preceded by delegation of authority.

Coaching should be purposeful and focused to enhance productivity. Being ready to be coached is rooted in the concept of being a lifelong learner to keep pace with the new trends of one’s profession. Leaders who seek and are open to feedback will be better positioned to gain the commitment and enthusiasm of the employees they lead.

  • Realize it is a millennial and Generation Z world: millennials make up 50% of the workforce. According to the data obtained from the LinkedIn survey, the number one reason millennials change jobs is to advance their career, followed by compensation and the desire for more challenging work and roles that are a better fit for their skills and interests. Research shows that millennials want to be challenged and are willing to work hard. They are positive, creative, optimistic and forward-looking. At the same time, they come with some pretty strong ideas about work/life balance, company values, and career expectations.

They are also a generation for whom a remote work environment and wearable technology are the norm. Leaders have to adopt a collaborative mindset to get the commitment of millennials and Generation Z cohorts. This generation is personally driven to seek education and professional development to increase employment opportunities in a world economy hit by many crises.

  • Create and leverage on a diverse work environment: Inclusive leadership must become part of the DNA of an organization. This kind of leadership surpasses tolerance and acceptance of others’ differences; it is about creating an inclusive workplace where employees representing all dimensions of diversity can thrive. Catalyst’s research identifies four core skills of inclusive leaders known as “EACH Mindset”.

EACH stands for:

a. Empowerment

b. Accountability

c. Courage

d. Humility Organizations like Catalyst have been able to demonstrate that there is an increased return on equity for businesses with more women and minorities in their executive levels. In addition, the research also shows that the more included employees feel, the more innovative and productive they are.

  • Vertical development, ownership development, and collective development: Vertical development refers to the advancement in a person’s thinking capacities. The outcome of vertical stage development is the ability to think in more complex, systemic, strategic, and interdependent ways. This comes in contrary to horizontal development, which is the development of new skills, abilities, and behaviors.

Horizontal development is most useful when a problem is clearly defined and there are known techniques for solving it. Due to the uncertainties controlling the business environment, vertical development has gained more momentum.

Ownership development: People develop fastest when they feel responsible for their progress and are involved in decision making and planning regardless of their position in the hierarchical structure of the company.

Collective Leadership: According to Simmons & Weinrich “[g]aining everyone’s participation is essential to a team’s success. Without an individual’s participation, the unique skills, talents, experience, and knowledge he/she brings to the team will be wasted.”

Ownership development: People develop fastest when they feel responsible for their progress and are involved in decision making and planning regardless of their position in the hierarchical structure of the company.

Collective Leadership: According to Simmons & Weinrich “[g]aining everyone’s participation is essential to a team’s success. Without an individual’s participation, the unique skills, talents, experience, and knowledge he/she brings to the team will be wasted.”

Factors Contributing to Better Collective Leadership

  • Open flows of information
  • More flexible and flatter hierarchies
  • Distributed resources
  • Distributed decision-making
  • Less centralization and control

Distributed leadership:

Distributed leadership can be considered to include shared, democratic, dispersed, and other related forms of leadership. It is a leadership style where leaders can emerge and exercise the power of knowledge wherever they are in the organizational chart. There are three premises of distributed leadership:

  1. Leadership is an emergent property of a group or network of interacting individuals
  2. There is an openness to the boundaries of leadership
  3. Varieties of expertise are distributed across the different levels of the organizational chart. Leaders might emerge based on the need of their expertise and how such expertise might be of impact

With the change in the pace of work, the impact of ever-changing technology, shifting demographics, increased environmental ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty, being a leader is more challenging than ever before. Good leaders understand these trends and equip themselves with the skills required to embrace them. Effective leaders are characterized by being visionaries, a trait that leads to seizing opportunities and developing products and services to satisfy needs and wants not attended to by competitors. Leaders contribute to the competitive advantage sought by their corporations.

The environment and context of leadership have changed, becoming more multifaceted, unstable, and unpredictable. Because of these changing trends, a leader’s skills are more demanding in the sense of having more complex, adaptive thinking abilities and being vertically developed. With the new form of economy and the advent of information technology, more individuals now have the chance to show and exercise their leadership abilities to reach higher positions in the organizational chart or start their entrepreneurial ventures.

Appealing to Millennials and Gen Z Cohorts!

On the sidelines of my participation at the Social Media Marketing World in San Diego.

The virtual and the real are becoming more interconnected and intertwined than ever before. The line between offline and online is becoming blurred. Smart organizations understand this fact and take advantage of it to create a better presence for themselves in a fiercely competition marketplace.

Every business needs to get their message out there to impact the choice of consumers. With LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms making major moves to enable social selling with original brand content, businesses will have to deepen and expand their messages were they to successfully influence the masses. Businesses have realized that they cannot achieve the sought business reach without digital media.

The following facts have been gleaned from observing the marketplace:

  • Salespeople who use social media outsell those who do not
  • Peer recommendations are a main contributor to making a purchase
  • The vendor’s digital media content has an impact on the final purchase decision

Rising above the noise of the busy virtual and physical market is indispensable, and creating authenticity and excitement among consumers is crucial. Businesses are using digital media to echo compelling and original voices in order to standout.

Photo credits: Social Media Marketing World

Internet technology is accessible to people of different generations. However, Generation Z, the main current and potential target of businesses, is the first to have Internet technology so readily available at such a young age. Concurrent with the web revolution that began in the 1990s, cohorts of this generation have been exposed to an unprecedented amount of technology in their upbringing. Given the exponential growth of smart phones, technology became more compact, affordable, and accessible. Forbes Magazine suggests that by the time Generation Z cohorts enters the workplace, digital technology would be an aspect of almost all career paths.

The widespread usage of the Internet from a young age is a significant aspect of this generation. Members of Generation Z are typically comfortable with technology and they interact on social media websites for a significant portion of their socializing.

Appealing to Millennials and Gen Z Cohorts

If you want to appeal to and engage with millennials and Gen Z cohorts, video is a must-have marketing tactic. These generations prefer to find entertainment and education on YouTube to traditional channels like television. Snapchat, YouTube, gifs, Vine, and more are being used at a rapid rate. Platforms like Periscope and Blab have put live interactive videos into the hands of anyone with a smart phone. 

According to a Facebook post by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg:

More than 2.32 billion users log in to Facebook each month.

More than 1.5 billion users use WhatsApp each month.

More than 1.82 billion users use Messenger each month.

More than 1 billion users log in to Instagram each month.

Social media now drives more traffic to websites than search engines. To stay relevant and appealing, companies, departments, and individuals need to know exactly where business technology is heading, and be sure to stay on top of each shifting digital trend. Remaining competitive necessitates being visible. Changing the strategic mindset, embracing constant change, and taking calculated risks is essential.

The growth of the Internet of Things, which has led to devices connecting more people in more useful and collaborative ways, triggers a transformation in every enterprise’s relationship with its community and stakeholders.

This shift will be a driver for the vision, data usage, and evolution of jobs and processes.

I will be sharing deeper insights on this topic in my upcoming blog posts, stay tuned!

Fueling Newness to your brand…Lacoste paving the way

Rebranding is a risky business… A very risky one…However, it might be highly needed to sustain your presence on the red carpet of business.

Most successful companies ranging from startups to those enlisted on the Fortune 500 have had rebranding attempts. Companies might realize that they need to strengthen their perception in the eyes of their consumers and to keep up with the new heights they have reached. The current brand might not be compatible with the sought identity. A very important point to consider is the new demographic target you need to hit. When talking about the apparel industry, millennials have proven to love the athleisure segment which many glamorous brands haven’t established yet. This in addition to emergence of new competition, technological shifts or taste trends justifies and urges top brands to fuel newness…Otherwise, obsolescence is the fate. 

Accused of confusing messaging over whether it’s a fashion brand or an athletic wear brand, driven by enthusiasm to stay relevant, Lacoste started a strategy of fueling newness to its brand. Thierry Guibert who was appointed as a new CEO in the year 2015 says that “Lacoste was, some years ago, considered an old-fashioned brand, like your father wore Lacoste”. This justifies the need to be more urban, cooler and more casual to better appeal to the young guys and to the native digital citizens.

Lacoste faces a challenge of being chic enough to be desired and available enough to be accessible. Very lucrative combination to be achieved. From a critical perspective, Lacoste accessibility strategy had some flaws which raised a red flag. Lacoste was over present and more is less for a differentiated brand. This overexposure is considered a misguided attempt to be a fashion brand.

Driven by image elevation and bringing sales back to their own stores by eliminating less-expensive alternatives, Lacoste pulled out of many of its department-store doors, including Macy’s and Nordstrom locations.

To maintain its edge and to make better appeal to the new generation, Lacoste has done the following rebranding attempts:

Lacoste Joins Influencer Marketing Strategies via the legendary tennis player Novak Djokovic who is known for the values of sporting elegance, fair play and determination which he shares with the founder of Lacoste Rene’ Lacoste.

Lacoste has transacted its distinctive crocodile logo for one of 10 threatened animal species on a series of limited-edition polo shirts, designed to bring attention to the global state of biodiversity. The French brand made 1,775 polo shirts in total which corresponds to the number of individuals known to remain in the wild. This change happens for the first time in the brand’s history. The socially responsible purpose is saving our species.

Lacoste has given its buyers the chance to express their style and customize their polos with the croc, colors and initials of their choice. The customer is the playmaker.

Lacoste and Disney celebrated their milestones together. The prominent crocodile-logo-adorned tennis brand observes its 85th anniversary, while Disney celebrates the 90th anniversary of its charming Mickey and Minnie Mouse. So both brands eventually joined forces to create an anniversary collection of their own putting their iconic figures together… The result according to many fashion lovers was Pure magic!

Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag, who are a design duo and award-winning French art created a two-tone geometric alphabet to reinterpret the legendary crocodile and create pieces targeting the youth.

Lacoste announced recently that British fashion designer Louise Trotter will join the brand as its new Creative Director. This appointment marks a historic milestone for Lacoste as Louise will be the first female creative head in the brand’s history. Louise is eager about writing a new chapter in its history of the brand

Rebranding, uplifting or even reinventing your brand can be your panacea to maintain your glamour and edge. It is a very challenging task since your identity might be jeopardized. Lacoste has done it right so far with a driving force of fueling newness. Brand Manager Fred Abou Adal tells our blog that fueling newness can be through a strategy of changing the perception of an old item. He adds:

“Fueling newness is essential for any brand in order to constantly attract customers and especially Millenials. Lacoste’s winning strategy to renew the image of its iconic Polo has been through storytelling, giving this timeless item a strong heritage to the younger generations.”

When asked about Lacoste’s strategy, Haifa Najjar who is communication manager of Holdal Group, the distributor of Lacoste in Lebanon, says that targeting young consumers who look for chic uniqueness and promoting feminine styles to match “On the Go” needs was a smart positioning direction. Haifa adds:

“This also comes in line with Holdal’s vision to keep up with the market fast-moving needs and trends.”