Responsive leadership – a guide
A summary of my public speaks
Erik Korsvik Østergaard, Partner, Bloch&Østergaard
Going to work should be nice, great, and awesome!
The 30 second summary
So, the world is changing ever faster.
A line of megatrends (including disruptive
technology) is driving business forward,
and forcing new behavior into
organizations, leaders, and employees.
A new holistic approach to strategy,
leadership, and people, with an updated
mindset and skillset for you and your
Trimming and redefining your organization
and culture to respond fast enough.
A redesign of the way you organize work,
constant innovation, internal startups, and
a portfolio approach.
Let’s go through the 3 areas!
Disclaimer: These are my slides from my public speaks, with some minor editing to give them context or “speakers notes”.
The world is changing
… and I bet you already know that.
Skip the next six slides, if you want. This is just a fast summary.
Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous
The world is VUCA
40% of Fortune 500 companies will be gone in 10 years
Is someone or something changing your business?
Do you know what problem you are solving?
- Babson School of Business, Washington University
Can you respond to the changes?
Half of the jobs will be automated
- SCENARIO, Centre for Futures Studies
“Your job; now available from the app store”
Our children’s jobs have yet to be invented
Being affected by these megatrends and
new demands, you need to think
holistically about your organization –
you need to look at these five elements
at the same time:
• Purpose and direction
(which is a verb, not a noun)
You need to change the mindset,
skillset, and behavior of your leaders to
You have to focus on attracting,
engaging, and retaining both
employees, customers, and the
The new leader understands this, and
has a holistic view on the business, the
organization, the team, and the
Focus on how to create value (VOI), not
just profit (ROI)
Purpose, relations and results is what
counts – and it creates happiness at
A holistic approach
Source: @LeadershipABC, Kenneth Mikkelsen
The many required shifts
Don’t compete on
New rules of the game
Behaviour of a leader
Ensures purpose and
meaning (WHY), and
that we’re making a
Challenges status quo
(both HOW and WHAT)
and encourages the
team to do the same
direction and traction
dialogue and delegation
Avoids titles and
hierarchy. Focuses on
roles and network.
Relations beat skills
the right things
Is a role model on trust,
Thrives with uncertainty
and complexity, and
Your organization needs to
respond, adapt, and be agile.
If not, you will have a limited
lifespan in the Future of Work.
The next pages present some
approaches for analyzing and
designing your organization.
Take a look at the five
parameters/sliders for “The
Responsive Organization” (see
next slide). If you push them all to
the left, you’ll be effective. If you
push them all to the right, you’ll
be responsive. What mix of
parameters do you want?
Similarly for the “Design principles
of adaptable organizations” and
for the “PUK Leadership Profile”:
Use it as a platform for debate:
What should you focus on now?
Finally, here’s 10 characteristics of
organizations that we work with,
that are moving towards a more
The Responsive Organization – what mix do you want?
Design principles of
What should you focus on?
Source: Gary Hamel et al.:
“Hackathon Report - Management
Evidence: 10 characteristics of responsive organizations
Everyone is a
Source: +10 clients that we’ve helped in the last few years
PUK Leadership Profile Red
Constant exercise of power to
keep foot soldiers in line.
Highly reactive. Thrives in
• Division of labour
• Command authority
Highly formal roles within a
hierarchical pyramid. Top-
down command and control.
Future is a repetition of the
• Formal roles (stable and
• Stable, replicable processes
Goal is to beat competition,
achieve profit and growth.
Management by objectives.
Command and control over
what. Freedom over how.
Focus on culture and
empowerment to boost
shareholders as primary
• Egalitarian management
• Stakeholder mode
Organizations are seen as
living entities, oriented
towards realizing their
• Evolutionary purpose
Purpose + direction
Vision, Value, Results,
Challenging status quo,
Technology, Fail fast, No-
Integrity, Intimacy, Relations,
Feedback, Dialogue, Listening,
Motivation, Dignity, Fairness,
Well-being, Coaching, Passion,
Engagement, Drive, Firmness,
Caring, Empowerment, Trust,
Choice, Flexibility, Agility,
Processes, Getting things
PUK v1.0Source: Bloch&Østergaard, in collaboration with representatives from the University of Southern Denmark
and several large Danish organizations in the finance and engineering industries
The responsive, networked organization
Do you want effective silos
or responsive networks?
Start thinking of your
organization as a portfolio of
(small) businesses or start-
ups, also called a
Give them autonomy,
support, and accountability.
Allow them to make mistakes,
but ensure validated learning.
This means that being an
entrepreneur inside the
organization is a career path.
This also means, that your
role as leader changes. You’ll
see that the team-of-teams
approach requires you to act
as a coach/mentor, as a
portfolio manager, and as
internal strategist from time
If you roll out an Agile project
approach (which is a great
idea), then do also push Agile
Leadership into the
An innovation-friendly culture and process
Use it, or
• Teams group, dissolve, and regroup
• Teams establish their own structure
• Teams establish values and identity
• Teams are organising in an organisation
• Management stays in control
• Outer boundaries are kept
• Internal flexibility and well-being
The role of the leader
•using your emotional
•thinking as an
ON “your business”
•i.e. maneuvering the
areas in your organization
“where rules are vague,
authority is fuzzy, budgets
are non-existent, and
strategy is unclear”
Pathfinder, domain expert, guide
Career platform in Future Of Work
People Project Specialist
The old career path: The only way is up.
This approach is going to die.
The new career platform: Not up, but around
“Get things done”
Purpose: Run the business
Purpose: Grow the business Entrepreneur
Purpose: Transform the business
The employee in Future Of Work understands to shift between roles;
and wants to be lead that way, on all levels of the organisation:
In frontline, as middle manager, and as top manager you can be
a manager, a leader or an entrepreneur of your role
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