Indranil Roy of Korn/Ferry has written an insightful piece in The Forbes magazine "Asia Doesn't Have the New Business Leaders It Needs". He talks about two terms - Asia 1.0 and Asia 2.0:
Until now that growth was built largely on being a workshop to the world, providing cheaper products to seemingly insatiable Western consumers. But that was Asia 1.0--and that engine is losing steam. Now the demands of Asian consumers, with unique and increasingly sophisticated needs, are changing the way companies create, design and market products. They are bringing about a new growth model that we call Asia 2.0.
And, goes on to talk about the kind of leadership styles suitable for these two worlds:
We found that the leaders who best met the Asia 1.0 challenges were highly directive, task-driven and productive, or else logical, serious and data-driven, with strong attention to detail.
In Asia 2.0, leaders' success will depend on their abilities to handle multiplicity, diversity and cultural differences across their workforces and markets. The leaders most likely to succeed in Asia 2.0 will be those who use openness, informality, humor and adaptability to lead, and who are inquisitive, collaborative, involving and patient in their leadership.
I have myself worked with several organisations in Asia and do agree with some of these points. As I read the article, I thought about the leadership's role in the context of an evolving, changing Asia. Organisations here are re-inventing themselves, repositioning themselves and are in the middle of constant change. This definitely affects the workforce in these organisations. In such a scenario, communication becomes a very important part of the change management process.
More than simple communication, I believe "selling" of change is critical. Leaders need to be adept at creating dissatisfaction with the present, painting a compelling vision for the future and charting a clear path to move from one point to another. Leaders need to passionately articulate the journey and its impact on the organisation and the individual. And in the process, rally people around the cause. Leaders need to ensure that their people "buy" the change; are completely sold out on it.
But, this does not work out so well when the leadership style is directive or overly serious. Leaders need to reinvent themselves as they map out the great change journey for their organisations. And organisations need to think about how they select and develop leaders for Asia 2.0.