Developing the Disruptors

Developing the Disruptors

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3416-8.ch002
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Disruptive leaders possess a deep understanding of the nonobvious. Developing solutions with a heightened creativity, solving problems and addressing risks, finding the right tradeoffs, and recognizing the wicked opportunities in the wicked problems, disruptive leaders scan the environment, identify trends, and envision the future. Often, this is done by finding superior solutions, products, and services. However, this is done with a strategic process and plan. In our current business environment, right when we get comfortable, we find ourselves having to adjust to a major change that requires us to shift time, energy, and resources to solve a problem or stay ahead of the market, or change our market. Every change that we encounter creates winners and losers. If we are disruptive in our leadership, these changes can bring about fabulous innovation and create new technologies that benefit humankind. Building a disruptive organization is the best way to thrive. This chapter explores developing the disruptors.
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If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Mary Englebright, Graphic Artist and Children’s Book Illustrator

The word disrupt means to cause something to be unable to continue in the normal way and to interrupt the normal progress or activity of something. Disrupt is much more than a contemporary buzzword. The disruptive leader is seen as the leader that “shakes it up”, wakes up an organization from its slumber and helps them compete in the modern world. Many case studies describe organizations that woke up too late, to the surprise of their employees, and soon did not exist. Furthermore, this disruption must come from the top management. Leaders must continually challenge what they hold sacred. “Change and disruption is about what needs to be done, not what has to be done” (Hoque, 2015).

Disruptive leaders pursue the truth and are always analyzing their strategies for effectiveness. Disruptive leaders must have tremendous self-worth and faith in their ability to face reality, but at the same time recognize opportunities in chaos. Decisiveness is paramount, even if it involves intuition. By the time you achieve team consensus, the opportunity can pass. Disruptive leaders break the rules and write new ones, but always listen and explain. In other words, normal does not exist for them, and they have the willingness to break the rules when embracing the new normal. Leading disruptive innovation means the new normal is facing high levels of uncertainty. By taking risks, modifying assumptions, and adapting plans, disruptive leaders allow innovation to occur. This is not new. Zen masters have used the tactics of disruptive leadership to bring out the best in the followers. Every industry and culture has trends where innovation is always the focus, and this is led by disruptive leaders. Disruptive leadership is not a fad. In fact, it is a way of being (Hoque, 2019).

When writing this, I thought of my own path as a young manager, when I had great leaders and bad ones. How many times as a single mother of four, I went home overworked and deflated by someone’s arrogance and lack of appreciation. The difference when my boss appreciated me, complimented me on my hard work, and rewarded me affected my attitude and home life for the better. One boss was a catalyst is building my self-confidence and self-worth, even though he had a big ego, he never let it get in the way of doing what was right by his reports or the company. He was a disruptive leader, and constantly influenced others to be disruptive. I have often thought about his support system, which seems often weak, but he was able to stay above this, and be a self-disruptive leader. It modeled the way for me to rise above an unsupportive leader and make my own way. His influence served me well, throughout my entire career and in my personal life.

Our personal and professional journey lies within us. Our lives are formed from the minute we are born. We constantly learn new information that changes who we are as we travel on our life path. Our ability to have the courage to be disruptive changes our life-path drastically. In leadership, these disruptive changes often lead to moments of greatness. As a young 26-year-old mother of four small children, I was forced to work in a bank during the day and a steel mill at night. The owner of the steel mill liked my gumption and work ethic. During a round of golf, he told a friend about me, and the friend hired me to be the plant manager of a small ice plant. This led to building a new plant, which led to working for the world’s largest food company. It was not always easy; I moved three times across the country as a single mother and faced many challenges. I realized later in life, that I was a natural disruptor. I sought change and embraced it. It took years and one big failure to embrace my self-worth but I also learned to pick myself up and succeed.

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