Disruption, reinvention and inclusive leadership: how can we use the opportunity to create a better world

It is important that we realise that big social trends like; climate change, technology disruption and a mental health crises- poses both big risks and opportunities to rethink our work and our world fundamentally.

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Judith_Haupt_Managing_Director_CONTRACT_South Africa

We are living through extraordinary times, experiencing big overall trends; climate change, technological disruption, a mental health crisis, a fracturing world and social instability – all of which are reshaping the business environment and our world today.

Many people are feeling hugely burdened by all of this, and rightly so. The risks these trends create only strengthen the weight and relevance of solid financial planning, of creating stability where we can. What is important to realise though is that these trends pose new and huge risks, but also great opportunities to rethink our work and our world fundamentally. The way we will handle the problems we have today is going to impact the way we are able to work and live in the future – and I want to take it as far as saying it will impact how we inhabit our planet.

The need for reinvention

In its recent CEO survey, PwC interviewed over 4 000 CEOs in over 100 countries. Almost 40% of CEOs said that if they continued their current course, their business would not be viable in 10 years’ time. “Evolve or die,” many of them said. A big need was identified: the need for reinvention. Reinvention being the shifting of mindsets, the “re-imagining and re-making of our reality to create something new and improved, with new qualities and attributes”.

If businesses are pressured to reinvent, so are their leaders and their people… this creates pressures and burdens for individuals, yet once again opportunities! What if the rethinking and re-imagining of our current reality could create something better? Better working conditions, a more humane economy, a better treatment of our planet?

What if disruption could be used for good?

What if individuals could see their own reinvention as impacting today’s society and its transformation? What if disruption could be used as a positive force for good?

Using disruption as a positive force

When people are demotivated, worried or burdened by the disruptive and worrying events we face today, it can be useful to ask:

  • How could what you are experiencing be “forcing” you to rethink things, to reinvent?
  • How could you tackle what is happening to you differently and shift your approach for the better?
  • Could what is happening today be the basis for us to create a new, better way?

One aspect that is helpful in rethinking things or tackling something from a different perspective is to look in different places and to listen to different voices. This is best described as inclusive leadership.

Inclusive leadership as force for reinvention

Inclusive leadership is a practice of recognising the uniqueness and value that every human being can possibly bring to a discussion. It is about creating psychological safety for everyone to be part of a discussion and bring themselves in, without fear of being judged or discriminated against.

It is also about bringing in marginalised voices. By valuing and respecting diverse perspectives, inclusive leaders encourage open dialogue, active participation and constructive dissent. They establish a culture that embraces different viewpoints and encourages everyone to contribute their thoughts without the fear of being judged or marginalised.

Who can practice inclusive leadership? Absolutely every one of us. Whether we are leaders in organisations, whether we are financial planners serving our clients, leaders of our own lives… absolutely everyone. We need new thinking in our world today, so let us not listen to the “usual” voices, but rather those who have not been heard so much so far!

What does this all mean?

South Africa is so culturally rich and filled with such incredibly different people, but we do not fully tap into this potential. We have incredible potential to use disruption as a positive force for good; to reinvent and to practice inclusive leadership.

How do we encourage ourselves, our clients and our network to search for differences rather than similarities? To look for answers to their challenges in new places? To be able to reinvent ourselves, our organisations and our lives to face many of the risks we face today.

Let’s encourage ourselves, our clients and each other to tap into new voices and new thoughts to reinvent and create new opportunities out of the risks and challenges we are facing.

If we did more of this, I think we might just be able to agree with this beautiful quote from Arundhati Roy:

“Another world is not only possible, she’s on her way – on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”