Category Archives: High Performing Teams

Exponential: growing your leadership at the same rate as your business

The premise of Azeem Azhar’s new book Exponential: How Accelerating Technology Is Leaving Us Behind and What to Do About It is that whilst technology is developing at an increasing, exponential rate, human society can only ever adapt at a slower, linear pace. In the Exponential Age there’s an ‘exponential gap’ between the power of new technology and humans’ ability to keep up. What does this mean for leaders building modern technology businesses? Could your business grow at a faster pace than you can? Can this ‘exponential leadership gap’ be filled?

I believe it can. It’s hard for humans to fathom exponential change, but it’s not impossible. We live in a complex universe, but our adaptive nature means we’re still surviving and thriving millions of years after we first appeared here on planet earth. Closer to home, my work brings me into daily contact with the leaders of the future: individuals and teams on a mission to bring new models of business, work and leadership to a more diverse world. I’ve noticed big shifts in some leaders as they embark on this journey of business and personal growth. Through Vertical Development they increase their capacity to make sense of the ever-increasing amount of complexity they experience as they scale, helping them navigate the exponential leadership gap effectively.

What gradually happens is not just a linear accretion of more and more that one can look at or think about, but a qualitative shift in the very shape of the window or lens through which one looks at the world.

Robert Kegan, Harvard developmental psychologist

We’ll explore how you can drive the rapid growth of your business, whilst at the same time keeping pace with it. We’ll consider:

  • What exponential growth is and how it impacts the rapid growth of modern technology businesses, including people and teams.
  • Leadership and the linear accretion of knowledge – how traditional horizontal approaches to leadership, which focus on understanding the job to be done and the capabilities required to do it, fall short.
  • Leadership and the exponential accumulation of capacity – how Vertical Development – sensemaking, perspective taking, self-relating and opposable thinking – can help you make sense of the complexity that surrounds you and construct meaning within that complexity.

I hope these new perspectives on leading high-growth technology businesses open up a new way for you to think about your own development. One of the main things you’ll discover is that your growth as a leader has the potential to be as exponential as the growth of your business.

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