Ana Paula Jiménez
Country Senior Partner
PwC Mexico


Expert Contributor

Unlearn: The Path to Better Leadership

By Ana Paula Jiménez | Wed, 09/07/2022 - 15:00

Today, global changes are demanding, more than ever, a new generation of leaders with a clear life philosophy, solid values and principles, who are also able to embrace these changes. Along with the many crises and the uncertainty we are facing, leaders need to have the ability to adapt, identify, leave aside unimportant matters, and learn the new paths companies need to follow to reestablish their own stability and the economy in general.

Being prepared to unlearn some of their old ways will allow companies to face a new era of opportunity and experiences, enabling them to grow as they empower leadership to enhance talent development, productivity and efficiency for the business.

As the sociologist and futurist writer Alvin Toffler once said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”

Having the opportunity to lead a firm, particularly given the challenging world we are living in, has made me reflect on the importance of the role of leadership as an enabler of growth in every business. That is why I want to take this opportunity to address three elements that I believe are fundamentally important for a company to successfully navigate through the learning-unlearning process:

  1. First, it is imperative for leaders to have a comprehensive view and knowledge of their people and trust their ability to tackle new challenges along the way. Maybe this would be a good time to reflect on the company’s recruitment and evaluation processes to determine if they allow the company to identify those capabilities.
  2. Leadership needs to consider the different ways they can act and the alternatives for action, not only in times of crises and disruption, but by providing tools and resources for the team to advance on the creation of these new paths and to follow them. Once the team starts adopting these new methods, there’s no going back; each member of the team, along with leadership, will need to bring all of their talent to the table to achieve the new goals.
  3. Lastly, leadership will need to accompany their staff through the process of facing natural barriers that leaving a comfort zone will imply as they embrace new changes. This will be a reflection on the emotional intelligence of the company’s leaders and their ability to allow the possible mistakes and effects resulting from the learn-unlearn process and as the new ways replace old routines. This will be an ongoing process.

Companies, which are structurally vertical now, will slowly start to adopt more horizontal and collaborative structures, where not everyone will have equal participation. Collective intelligence will be required to allow more people to participate in the decision-making process to drive change.

Along with change, innovation is key for the success of every business. Companies are and will continue to face bigger competitive demands. As we continue to live in an uncertain landscape, creativity, constant innovation and our ability to quickly react to those demands will be crucial for success.

Here are four simple and useful points of view for navigating the new reality and becoming future leaders:

  • Empower and motivate your team, create a collective dream within every employee.
  • To take full advantage of the new landscape and build solid competitive advantages for your business, reimagine your whole experience, if you need to, take a 180-degrees turn, make your client the center of it all and establish a new way of thinking across your whole organization. Innovation separates leaders from followers.
  • Rethink the way you communicate, listen, and meet your clients’ needs. Digital is king and an omnichannel strategy is the only acceptable way to make things happen.
  • Surround yourself and your business, with the best team, the best providers, and people who can reimagine the future and think outside the box; also embrace advice when you get it.

In this moment in history, we have the opportunity to build a different and better future, leaving the past aside and building a legacy for new generations to look back at the basics for everything new that is built. Now is the best time; we all can imagine and work toward creating the impact we want to see happening in the world, in our businesses and in our personal journeys.

Photo by:   Ana Paula Jiménez