The world is changing, and business is no exception. The old formula of loyalty is no longer an item on the agenda of career seekers and HR directors. We are living in a new world of short-term commitments, where we are all freelancers. We are actively seeking the next opportunity, examining our options, sharpening our public profile and waiting for the next call with better conditions and a better offer
In this newly defined world, leadership is evolving, and the traditional criteria for successful and charismatic leaders are vanishing day by day. Gone are the days when people attended leadership training to be given a structured master plan on how to lead. The modern leadership approach is moving towards the emotionally intelligent leader, where leaders possess a high level of self- awareness and cultural orientation. However, this set of new skills remains insufficient in the age of freelancing business.
I still recall the days at the beginning of my career with Bristol-Myers (BMS) Squibb, when success was measured by the number of years you remained in the same organisation, and when your resume looked perfect if you were moving up with the same logo attached to your title. When I left BMS after one year and accepted an offer from Organon, I was seen by colleagues as someone who was a risk-taker. This first move was justified by the fact that I was leaving my home country for Dubai for better payment conditions and better quality of life. However, when I left all successes of Organon behind to make a second move in less than three years to accept a new position at IBSA, it was described as an unwise step. One year later, following an incredibly successful year at IBSA with work related news coverage in all known media channels, I moved from IBSA to join a pharmaceutical start-up in Switzerland. This step was seen by some of the industry associates as the end of my very short outstanding career, but the journey continued.
Being a futuristic freelancer, I settled only when I reached partner-level and became one of 13 board members who own the diversified worldwide business of the CPI International group. Nevertheless, I am still hunting for a better opportunity where I can excel in value creation, while keeping my business shares at CPI as my future pension security. It was my freelancing intuition that guided my career progression and took me to the office of the CEO and the world of success in a very short time.
Today, this freelancing tune dominates the corporate culture, and short-term contractual assignments turn out to be the norms in this aggressively changing world. Theories of collective leadership occupy the hearts and minds of corporate strategists and business leaders. Practices are moving beyond the individual unit to the acts of the group and community leadership models. In a world where loyalty is no longer a core concept in organisational culture, leaders need a new set of skills to lead in the age of freelancing.
In my ongoing attempt to uncover the required set of skills for this age, I found my full attention drawn towards the concept of emotional intelligence first introduced by Daniel Goleman in 1995 in his book of the same name. He was also the first to take the concept to business applications studying more than 200 companies and publishing his results in an HBR article in 1998. I was one of those who was influenced by his work and research which was initially published at the time I started my career at BMS in 1995. Goleman described emotionally intelligent leaders as those who have the highest degree of self-awareness, fully understand their strengths, weakness, needs, drivers, values and goals. These are qualities that serve a lifetime leadership style, and help leaders to efficiently manage and distinguish emotional leaders from traditional ones. However, it is my view that these skills and qualities are not sufficient to lead in times of high turbulence and no loyalty as they were all based on long-term commitment in the age of loyalty.
In times when employees jump ship at the first sign of sinking, or when people leave for a competitor’s better offer at any time, in this new age of freelancing, we are in acute need of a unique leadership style, one that is linked to short-term performance and goals, and one that secures the best outcome from each venue and situation. Leading in the age of freelancing requires a new leadership style that I call Venue Intelligence (VI)
Venue Intelligence is this new leadership behaviour which I have developed based on my extensive experience working in 19 countries on 4 different continents with activities in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, higher education, renewable energy and public service industries. It is the leadership style and approach that matches the requirements of the freelancing age, where the parameters are different and where factors influencing the leader–followers relationship are redefined.
The Venue Intelligent leader is someone who is able to maximise the outcome and benefits of each business situation. Venue Intelligence is about being able to offer a sustainable threshold of emotional intelligence tailored to a specific business context within a defined period. It takes more than being emotionally intelligent to practise the Venue Intelligence model of leadership. It requires full control of the social, emotional and organisational factors that govern the value creation equation in a specific deal or project
Venue Intelligent leaders are those company stars who possess the following four skills:
1.Venue Recognition: the ability to evaluate your perception and the perception of others in a defined business situation. It is the ability to assess, monitor and control your strengths and weaknesses, motivators and suppressors in a specific business environment. Venue awareness helps leaders to understand the value proposition customised to the needs of their teams in a particular moment. It is about the ability to analyse all internal and external factors influencing the venue and decide on the best alternatives within the defined time. Venue Recognition skills attach the team to their leader and ensure full collaboration, engagement and loyalty during the estimated project time.
2.Value Engagement: the ability to engage people in a productive process of self-reflection bridging the present to the future, maximising their trust in the ability of their leader to lead through times of crisis and change. Value engagement is the skill of developing a long-lasting professional relationship that goes beyond the organisational boundaries and the current business entity. It is about the creation of an engagement culture which offers the required model of success for the team to follow. Value engagement is about acting in a heroic culture where followers feel secure, supported and have a sense of belonging. It is the presence that is recognised by others and appreciated by the leader of the group. This type of engagement maximises the ability of the team to meet deadlines, to work harder and to achieve objectives.
3.Customised Innovation: the ability to manage tailored innovation and to structure a set of processes customised to each project, assignment or situation. Customised Innovation is the leader’s ability to link Venue Intelligence to short-term performance goals. The ability to remain focused on the implementation stage of the process and on measuring the value creation within limited periods. It is the process that enables leaders to create payment schemes linked to short- term strategic goals and to design competency models to differentiate future leaders from the rest of the team. Customised Innovation is about the execution, whereas innovation is defined with details of the application, the assessment, due diligence and value creation processes.
4.Arianastic Spirit: is the ability of leaders to invent new approaches, solutions and strategies to future business problems. It is an ability that exceeds intelligent, analytical and visionary thinking. It is this natural intuition that enables a young baby to avoid risky situations and to act on immediate solutions. It is about this bio-alarm that awakens the mother to feed her baby in the middle of the night. It is this outstanding ability to structure preventive measures for forecasted future problems that save the organisation. It is this credibility link that is developed over days and months, and allows followers to stay in the team and support the organisation during crisis times. It is the power of love, connection and admiration that strengthens the psychological contract between the organisation and employees. Arianastic Spirit integrates the values that turn a dead-end meeting to one that changes the future of the business. It is this holy spirit that guides success, value creation and paradigm shifting throughout the history of business. Arianastic Spirit is the ability to energise people, to motivate the team to bring hope in times of uncertainty. It is this ability to activate the full power of your brain, turning leadership into a type of energy that helps leaders to connect, sense, feel, anticipate, learn and create the future.
Venue Intelligence is the futuristic vision of leadership, where skills are not limited to structured terms and definitions. Venue Intelligence is the new innovative leadership model that is tailored to the changing social and business environment. It is this learning model that stimulates the artificial intelligence genre in every team member, where people are enjoying what they are doing. Venue Intelligence is a world where freedom of thinking, expression and engagement is valued and appreciated. Venue Intelligence leadership is the required model to lead in the age of freelancing
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