Scroll to top
© Optimize Consulting Inc. | All Rights Reserved

Smarter not Harder

Optimize Blog - September 5, 2012 - 0 comments

This week sees a major milestone for Nokia and its Chief Executive, Stephen Elsop. Mr Elsop has had a rocky start to his tenure at the top of Nokia since his famous ‘burning platform’ speech in February 2011. 40,000 job cuts, a plan to shift all handset production to Asia, and the acknowledgement that sales of existing Lumia models have been “mixed”, have all made for a stressful first two years in the job and in April it surrendered its 14-year position as the world’s biggest phone-maker to Samsung, according to researchers at Strategy Analytics.
So Nokia and Microsoft are going to co-host a press event in New York this Wednesday where they are expected to unveil devices running the new Windows Phone 8 operating system. Mr Elsop, of course, knows how to deal with Microsoft – he worked for the US software maker until taking over as Nokia boss.
There is no doubt that it will be a struggle to establish Windows as the third operating system in the Smartphone market. Windows currently enjoys just 3% of the market but must be encouraged by the ongoing patent infringement cases currently working their way through various international courts. The recent fine levied on Samsung for infringing Apple patents has the market unsettled and perhaps leaves a door open for the integrated Windows 8 platform. On the day of the Samsung fine announcement, Nokia’s shares rose 7.7%.
Apple, Amazon, Motorola and HTC are also going to make announcements over the coming few weeks further underlining the rapid pace of change in this highly competitive environment.
As these technology giants battle it out and maneuver to secure the elusive competitive advantage, there are some leadership lessons that we can learn from Mr Elsop and the challenges faced by Nokia.
Managing complexity and change is a key factor that distinguishes those with the capacity to hold high level roles from managers unlikely to progress further in the organization. The most senior roles like Elsop’s, deal with complex dynamics, a large scope and extended timeframes. They place heavy demands on the ability to handle strategic, complex and ambiguous issues – in other words their ability to think ‘outside the box’.
This is not just about ‘intellectual horsepower’ or ‘IQ’. Some managers can score highly on standard reasoning tests yet still have difficulty in handling complex or strategic issues. This becomes further complicated when mapped against a backdrop of accelerating change in terms of the economy, technology and the competitive environment.
Leaders of the future will be able to flourish in a work environment that has fewer boundaries and a wider variety of challenges and stakeholders. The emphasis in this core competence area is placed on influencing, building relationships and networks and managing the politics of business life both inside and outside of the organization.
Among the sub-set of this core competence would be:
• Creating structure out of chaos and calm in times of crisis
• Creating and shaping change rather than passively accepting it
• Assimilating and making sense of complex and conflicting data and different perspectives
• Using flexible influencing skills to build productive relationships with people across and outside of the organization
• Accepting and encouraging a level of considered risk to exploit business opportunities
• Recognizing and acting on the currents of organizational life, building decision networks and navigating organization politics
Good leaders have two important characteristics. First, they are going somewhere and second, they are able to persuade other people to go along with them. Whilst we all might not be headed for the rarefied atmosphere inhabited by CEO’s like Mr Elsop, the ability to lead change in a complex and dynamic environment is very much core to effective leadership at all levels.
Ultimately the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft may well flourish and return Nokia to its former glory but whatever the outcome, it is clear that Stephen Elsop has a clear vision of where he wants to go and to date has been enough of a leader to lead the change from the front.

Related posts

Post a Comment