We live in interesting times. From Brexit to Trump we see the democratization of anger, frustration, and bigotry, while at the same time we are witnessing the democratization of technology, ideas, and capital. Change is inevitably paradoxical, and we are living through a history of bright, shiny possibilities and dark, dystopian currents in equal measure. How should we prepare future leaders?
There might have been a time when we relied on our political, business, and community leaders to interpret the world for us and give us reliable institutions of civic and commercial order. But now we live in the open source era where information is ubiquitous, ideas represent currency and where entrepreneurship is the dominant platform for business success.
Airbnb, Tesla, Apple, Alibaba, Google, Zappos, Uber, are good examples of “exponential organizations”, where output is disproportionally large because of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies. And while technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanothechnology, robotics, and digital biology are rapidly redefining the work environment, the practice of developing leaders for these organizations is lagging. What is the new model of leadership for 2020-2050?
Here are four ways we might better prepare our future leaders:
1. Unleash Innovation
Create the environment for anyone to propose new ideas with a net benefit for society, and allocate resources for test cases and pilot programs. Develop a start-up mindset. Be prepared for transformation and metamorphosis. New leaders will need to create a delicate balance between disruption and containment.
2. Leadership Being
Successful leaders in the open source era are “autocratic” or single-minded about their vision, mission, and purpose. But they also display an unshakeable adherence to their core values, a deep awareness of themselves, and a generally compassionate treatment of others. Leaders will need to be resilient, revolutionary, and remarkable in their purpose, yet considerate and empathetic in building collaboration.
3. Systems Architecting
Historians in the late Twenty-First Century will almost certainly judge us for dithering on climate change and on our collective failure to perceive the interconnectedness of all our actions. successful leaders of the open source era are able to conceive radically different systems of engagement of people and resources, of which Uber and Airbnb are classic examples. Systems thinking, imagining, and architecting will be essential skills for new leaders.
4. Leadership Coaching
Coaching has emerged as a highly specialized field of leadership development which is able to respond flexibly to changing operational environments and individual learning needs. Now, more than ever, we need capable and wise leaders who will make decisions for our common good, not just the good of shareholders. New leaders will need leadership coaches who can act like Sherpas, shouldering some of the load as they guide their clients towards their individual and organizational summits. They may also need leadership coaches who can behave like Shamans, wisely perceiving patterns and divining the future.
Does your leadership development curriculum consider these four approaches? If not, then you are most likely briefing your leaders for the past, not the future