Latest column by ORCHANGO President & Co-founder Edmond Mellina for Talent Canada. To be nimble,…
#NimbleVlog Season 01 Episode 10 — A point made by panelist Michel Servoz at the annual conference of Institute of Corporate Directors prompted this new episode (the related mini-clip is embedded in the video). ORCHANGO’s president & co-founder Edmond Mellina talks about what we call “The Co-Disruptors™”. Three characteristics set these leaders apart from “unbridled disruptors”. The latter are great for start-ups… but not in established organizations. As businesses navigate the turbulent waters to the next normal, identifying these Co-Disruptors and giving them opportunities to do their magic is paramount…
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In this current environment, businesses have no choice but to disrupt themselves. That is a very challenging task and it requires a special type of leadership.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual conference of the Institute of Corporate Directors, which for the first time ever was a virtual event because of the pandemic.
And one of the panelists touched on the kind of leadership skills required to disrupt from within. His name is Michel Servoz, a fellow Frenchman who served as special advisor to the President of the European Commission on AI and robotics. Let’s listen in…
On leadership, I agree with the point made by Barbara [Stymiest] on the fact that you need somebody who can drive change. I think this is the most important point. And as I was saying, in my experience, organizations do not like change. So you need to find the right person. Somebody who can disrupt the establishment, who can anticipate changes, who can innovate. And at the same time, and this is where it becomes really difficult, you need somebody who can listen, who has some empathy, and who can also be a consensus builder if you wish. So for me that would be the main aspect.
Servoz is referring to what we, at ORCHANGO, have been calling for a few years now “Co-Disruptive Leadership” – with a big emphasis on the “Co-“. Let me explain.
There are various models out there for disruptive leadership.
None of these models has emerged as “the model”, but they all do a good job at highlighting what sets apart disruptive entrepreneurs, think about leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. We call these folks “unbridled disruptors” and they are great for start-ups.
But this type of disruptive leadership back-fires in established organizations. That’s because in incumbent companies, you need to be able to constantly reinvent the business without alienating the rest of the organization.
From our research and experience, we have identified three key characteristics of Co-Disruptors. They are the things that make them different from unbridled disruptors like Bezos and Musk.
First, Co-Disruptors are uber collaborative. From the get-go, these leaders have a strong desire to build bridges. They naturally take a highly collaborative approach to disruption. That is actually where the “Co-“ is coming from in the label “Co-Disruptive”. But that’s not all…
Second, and this is one of the things that Servoz touched on at the ICD conference, Co-Disruptors have a great deal of empathy. In established organizations, you need to be able to rock the boat without making everyone angry. And without a deep understanding of people’s feelings, emotions, and perspectives, it’s impossible to do so. So, you need high levels of empathy.
Finally, Co-Disruptors understand that disruption from within is first and foremost a political game. Therefore, they plunged into it BUT they do it with integrity. That means they don’t use politics to advance their own personal agenda. That would be playing dark-side politics, which I find highly unethical.
Instead, Co-Disruptors use politics – both internally and externally – to marshal the necessary support to bring disruptive innovations to market. And they do it in a smooth way; in a very effective way. In other words, they excel at it.
In summary, to disrupt from within, you need Co-Disruptors – that is disruptors who bring to the table three key attributes: Uber Collaborative; Strong Empathy; and Mastering of Light-side Politics.
Of course, you cannot have Co-Disruptors everywhere in the organization. However, you need this kind of leaders in four critical areas: 1) the C-suite; 2) the innovation teams; 3) the business units most in need of digital transformations; and, also 4) the board of directors.
So, as you navigate towards the next normal, identify your Co-Disruptors and give them opportunities to do their magic. The future of your business depends on it.