The Avocado Leader: From Crisis to Growth

Avocado is a fruit with a hard inner core and a smooth layer around it. Thus, an “avocado leader” can refer to a person with innate business skills and a humane approach to people management.

In the webinar, “Are You a Future-Ready Leader?” Written by Australia-based futurist Jehan Pereira, I learned the essential traits of an ‘avocado leader’.

What does an association CEO who navigates and work through the three phases of crisis, recovery, and growth need to focus on to be ready for the future? To simulate an “avocado leader,” an association CEO has to use both (organizational) and soft (people) skills to be able to do so.

Here’s what I learned from Jihan’s show:

1. Crisis. Crisis does not necessarily create leaders. magnifies it. During this time of great turmoil and uncertainty, leaders need to step things up. Proving your attachment to the future may not be possible but it may be future ready. At best, an avocado leader has to offer two essential elements: clarity of goals and direction for the team and organization, and empathy for employees working in a “new normal” workplace.

2. Recovery. At this critical juncture, an avocado leader, using available information, ingrained skills, better judgment and wisdom, needs to do two things: take action (make plans with backups, prioritize activities and resources, and focus on the work at hand; and build trust among stakeholders The key people in the organization (i.e. the board of directors, management, staff, members and volunteers).

3. Growth. To achieve growth, an avocado leader has to consider three transformational realities: (i) a vision of where the organization is headed after a thorough assessment of its surroundings; (ii) Digitization as an imperative no matter how and to what extent the organization adopts it; and (iii) the team structure and work setup such as who does the task, where the work is to be done, and when the work must be completed.

In the Keeping Us Up at Night survey released this year, KPMG Int’l Ltd. On key issues as seen by business leaders in Australia. The main challenges identified for 2022 and for 3-5 years and beyond are: (i) acquiring, retaining and rehabilitating talent to meet a more digital future; (ii) Dealing with cyber vulnerability; (3) challenges and benefits of employees working remotely; (4) Digital transformation, improvement and extracting organizational value from it. and (5) dealing with evolving organizational processes and reporting changes and impacts.

When addressing change and disruption, all organizations, including associations, go through three stages: crisis, recovery, and growth. How you cope, perform, and thrive depends on how one responds at each stage.

So how would you rate yourself on future-ready leadership skills? Are you able to deal with people who are still in crisis? Can you lead your team through the recovery period? Do you have what it takes to be proactive and grow?

Octavio Peralta is currently the Executive Director of the Philippine Global Compact Network and the Founder and Volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Executive Societies, “Association of Associations”. PCAAE will hold the Summit of 10 Associations (AS10) on 1 and 2 December 2022. Email: bobby@pcaae.org.

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