What does a leader look like in the business ecosystem era?
by Aura Rivero

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As Richard Straub says in his Harvard Business Review article, the point of understanding value creation for business ecosystems is to have a broader perception of it. Although it is hardly news that companies are not stand alone organizations, technology’s effect on business networks and platforms has made operations more interconnected than ever, which has brought this interconnectedness into sharp focus.

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An effective leader must adopt the right competencies that allow the organization to prosper in this environment. So even if the ecosystem way of thinking is not entirely new to management, the technology imperative and need to keep people in mind means that there are some aspects of it that demand a different type of leadership.

What does is this leader look like? There’s no recipe to being a better leader in a business ecosystem, but some common characteristics can be found.

  • Cooperation: business ecosystems nowadays are so complex, that they cannot be understood by one person. Managers need to accept this and let diverse teams, whose members have different outlooks and specialties, take part in the decision making and strategy designing processes. This is an empowering function for management, rather than a traditional control one.

  • Flexibility: ecosystems always allow for evolution, this also applies to businesses. A good manager must make room for progress by having a flexible approach to strategies.

  • Perceptiveness: in order for an organization to evolve with its environment, it must first notice that changes are coming. Accordingly, an effective manager must develop mechanisms that improve the channels of communication and awareness he or she has with the ecosystem, and beyond it.

  • Listening: no level of perceptiveness is possible if people do not listen to what others in the ecosystem have to say. Managers must listen and take into consideration every contribution, no matter from the level it comes.

  • Introspectiveness: a good manager needs clear vision for evaluating their organization, recognizing trends outside the ecosystem and translating them into actions within.

  • Consciousness: leaders must acknowledge the need to act in a way that benefits all aspects of the ecosystem, not only their business.

These competencies amount to one critical shift in management – managers need to become collaborators. The practice behind networked value creation is still in the making; at this point, there are endless possibilities. The true leader looks more like a considerate collaborator than an old-fashioned command position. By working on a more collaborative and inclusive model for managers, leaders and the entire ecosystem, organizations may reach their potential. Doing so, they can find new and exciting opportunities for improvement with this more holistic way of thinking about business.

About the author:

Aura Rivero is from Mexico City. She is a Bachelor’s Business Management student at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and was a finalist for the Drucker Challenge in 2016.

This article is one in the Drucker Forum “shape the debate” series relating to the 11th Global Peter Drucker Forum, under the theme “The Power of Ecosystems”, taking place on November 21-22, 2019 in Vienna, Austria #GPDF19 #ecosystems

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