Speaking at the National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital last month in Washington, D.C., Dr. Nazneen Razi, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for the Health Care Service Corporation, which operates Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, said that tectonic shifts in the business world have created the need for a new leadership model.

“The world is becoming quite different,” said Razi, co-author of “Winning with Transglobal Leadership: How to Find and Develop Top Global Talent to Build World-Class Organizations.” “It’s smaller. And one of the things that’s created a challenge for us is that the world is transparent. We are in a global fishbowl.”

This “fishbowl” effect is compounded by the fact that technology allows information to travel faster across borders, Razi told attendees of the National Business Group on Health’s event. “Look at technology and social media,” she said. “Those changes are adding to the complexity. It took radio 40 years to penetrate 50 million people. Today, it’s almost viral the way things happen. When Google Plus went up last year, within four weeks, they had 25 million registered.”

Razi said that based on her experience and research there are five “survival imperatives” for dealing with the “tsunami of change and complexity” washing over the workplace. The first, and possibly most important, “is evolved leadership attributes. We need a new form of leadership.

“Colleagues and I, we looked at leaders in the global environment. We surveyed 200 leaders, we studied literature and we found that the leadership constructs that were in existence did not really work. The demands of today are quite different.”

Successful leaders today, Razi said, must provide employees with “a powerful purpose.” Workers need to know they’re striving toward more than just money, and good executives know how to provide that.

“The second [imperative attribute] is team connectivity. We all know that individual genius is fragile, compared to the wisdom of teams,” she said, adding that “integrating ideas across boundaries” is a win-win scenario.

“The third one is flexibility — pragmatic flexibility,” Razi noted, explaining that “the ability to flex based on changes happening in your environment is crucial.

Fourth: “Receptive responsiveness. What does that mean? [It] means [possessing] a high degree of sensitivity [and an ability] to work with intuition and with fact.”

And finally, Razi points to “talent orientation” as a leadership must. “All of the executives that we talk to say that they take personal interest in their people, that they did not leave that to HR, that they were the one who made sure that their top talent was attended to, that they were involved in succession planning.”

While in Washington, Razi sat down exclusively with EBN to discuss strategies for harnessing the full potential of workplace diversity. Look for a podcast of that discussion in the Nov. 29 InBrief.

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