Business as unusual

by | May 1, 2017 | Business and Marketing, Wineland

The business landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate and leaders are expected to navigate their organisations, people and stakeholders through uncertain yet exciting times.

 “I wake up every morning terrified that we could be disrupted into oblivion. It’s a high probability but we can’t chase every new innovation and we also can’t stick to what we’re good at. We’ll be dead in the water if we do both.” – The average leader of today

  These comments reflect the challenge leaders of organisations face today. What are the major trends impacting the business landscape? PwC has identified five global megatrends that impact South African organisations, including the wine industry. They are global political, economic and social forces that impact nations, businesses, economies, societies, cultures and personal lives. They give an indication of what our future world will look like and require a response from governments, societies, organisations and leaders. They challenge leaders in new ways and require a bold new leadership narrative.

For leaders this requires a step change from traditional leadership styles and approaches to collaborative leadership that facilitates dialogue across internal hierarchies and diverse stakeholders to co-create the organisation of the future.

It also requires leaders to respond to the current realities in their organisation and simultaneously guide it to the future. Trend analyst, Dion Chang, refers to this ability to run your business in disruptive times while at the same time future-proofing your business as “ambidextrous leadership”. It requires remaining competitive in current core markets, while winning in new domains. Chang refers to this as the leader’s ability to juggle seemingly inconsistent or contradictory business strategies simultaneously. Or more specifically the ability and willingness “to exploit existing assets and capabilities in mature businesses and, when needed, reconfigure these to develop new strengths.”

In their book Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator’s Dilemma, Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman maintain that companies don’t fail because of competition but rather from out-of-touch leadership. They argue that for leaders today “it’s easy to feel as though they’re on a treadmill, especially when their organisations face the threat of extinction”.

They encourage leaders to remember that exploration is the path to changing the game in their industry. It’s what allows leaders to discover the future before their competitors do. For leaders — and really for everyone involved with winning organisations — this is an electrifying possibility. But this possibility of leading ambidextrously requires emotional and strategic clarity and the ability to embrace contradiction.”

In order to be effective, leaders need to understand this complexity and be able to:

  • Move from adapting to anticipating.
  • Move from adapting to anticipating.
  • Move from leading (in the traditional sense) to orchestrating a complex ecosystem.
  • Become purpose-driven and provide meaning.
  • Embrace individual and systemic diversity.
  • Provide leadership development at all levels.
  • Move from individual heroic to collaborative and collective leadership.
  • Practise ethical maturity in a transparent world.

The South African wine industry is fortunate to have a depth of leadership at all levels, from business owners, board members, CEOs, middle managers and team leaders to leaders representing the various industry bodies, labour and academia. These leaders have individually and/or collectively positioned the South African wine industry where it is today.

Our engagement with many of these leaders has shown that most of them understand what “business as unusual” means.

However for the industry to be sustainable and relevant requires the current leaders to have two important focus areas: Firstly, future-proofing the industry and secondly, developing the required talent and growing the pipeline of young, diverse and dynamic next-generation leaders.

This calls for collective commitment and action and a significant investment in the development of the leadership capabilities needed to grow the industry and navigate it to a future that will be very different to what we know and understand today.

 For more information contact Crispin Swart at or 021 529 2137.

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