MaST Business Forum - The Leadership Shift - Leading during times of uncertainty - Summary

MaST Business Forum - The Leadership Shift - Leading during times of uncertainty - Summary

25th March 2015


The latest MaST Forum provided senior managers and L&D executives the time and space to consider the type of Leader we might want to develop to meet ongoing and future challenges.  The conditions and context that Leaders operate in have become more complex and uncertain, therefore, we need to develop Leaders who can thrive when ambiguity is constant.

What is creating uncertainty?

We asked the group to explore the factors that are creating such uncertainty and complexity for their organisations.  From this, the group explored what type of Leadership is needed to not only survive, but to thrive in an ever changing milieu.

What type of Leadership can take us forward?

Mark Hawkswell then took the group on a journey, through an amalgamation of meshed adult development models that correlate well with Leadership effectiveness, particularly Leaders who have to operate in complex domains.

Leaders who have matured, either through a process of intense self-awareness or having learnt to flex in the face of the life conditions they face, or more normally a combination of both, have shown to have developed a number of qualities well suited to the type of Leadership needed to prosper in the face of uncertainty.  These Leaders which have been named as Strategists are more likely to:

  • Enjoy learning for the sake of learning - a useful skill in the knowledge economy
  • Develop new paradigms - a useful competence considering we have to find new ways of combining knowledge in new forms - the creative economy
  • Undertake double loop learning which means they can recognise the framing of any problem and its subsequent solution can be part of the problem itself.  They are able to broaden the frame
  • Take on multiple perspectives and are aware of system dynamics.  They instinctively know that complex issues have multiple causes and are embedded in a web of interdependencies
  • Find room for other people’s perspectives and to find a solution suitable and representative of a large number of stakeholders 
  • To develop mutual and sustaining relationships, triadic in nature, not just dyadic

How do we develop our Leaders?

We then explored how we might develop the Strategist mindset, knowing that we may not want all our Leaders to develop the Strategist capability and that developing this way of thinking is not an easy thing to do.  In fact, in developing this capacity, we need to lengthen our developmental time frame and we need to use unconventional means of doing so.  Sending people on a two day Leadership course will always be a great place to start, but it is only the beginning.  The individual needs to be exposed to complexity through a variety of means.  We know the rewards are worth waiting for.

What is the research on developing Leaders showing us?

We closed by looking at research showing how certain Leadership competencies are linked to a higher ROI and how they are related to developing the Strategist mindset.  We shared some Leadership statistics, such as these developed by Zenger and Folkman:

  • Excellent Leaders are 127% more effective than good Leaders
  • To be classed as excellent, in other words to be in the 91st percentile a Leader need only develop five strengths.  Even better news, developing just three strengths will put a Leader in the 81st percentile and this is enough for them to be adding real bottom line value for the organisation

MaST Global offering

MaST then shared its 360 feedback tool which marries up with the research of Zenger and Folkman.  It focuses on those competencies which have proven to show a high return on investment.  The model is linked to MaST’s new Leadership offering.  We can now offer targeted and consistent Leadership development across the whole of the globe.


Should you wish to discuss any aspect of Leadership or other development topics please do call on 0800 316 9090, or email