Leadership Letter 4

Leadership Letter 4                     The Leader of the Future

“Leadership is changing before our very eyes. What made a great leader 50 years ago or 25 years ago, will not likely make a great leader 10 years from now.”  Tim Ryan, the Chairman of PwC in the U.S.

Today it is a challenging time to be a leader and it is not going to get any easier. Jacob Morgan is a 4 times best-selling author, speaker, and futurist, who’s work on leadership I follow closely. Will the leader of 2030 be that different than the leader of today, and if so how? These were two questions Jacob Morgan wanted to answer in his new book, The Future Leader. He personally interviewed over 140 CEOs around the world from companies like Oracle, Verizon, Kaiser, Unilever, MasterCard, Best Buy, and many others. Through these interviews it became clear that the leaders of tomorrow would look different, and six specific trends emerged that are shaping future leaders. Let’s explore the six trends briefly.

  1. Artificial intelligence and technology – There are terms and concepts that for many of us are still just vague terms, that are becoming mainstream in business and are changing the way business operates. Augmented and virtual reality, digital communication, smart phones in the hands of every employee, blockchain, 3D printing, robotics, and tech skills. Leaders will need to figure out how these things impact their businesses? How do we prepare our future leaders for these realities? These are no longer IT or HR issues. As leaders we need to own the digital and automation debate.
  • Pace of change – Life and work evolves literally over night and being comfortable with disruption must be the makeup of the future leader. Workplace design and practises, a multiple generational workforce, Artificial Intelligence, and globalisation are just some of the factors driving this increased pace of change. How do we keep up and how do we adapt?
  • Purpose – People today care about purpose and meaning. They want to do what matters to them. As a leader do you know and understand your own purpose? What gives your life and work meaning? How do you help your team discover their own sense of purpose? How does that align with the what you do in your business?
  • New talent landscape – Competition for the right talent is fierce. It is impossible to predict exactly the skills that will be needed even five years from now, so workers and organisations need to be ready to adapt. Talent’ no longer means the same as ten years ago. Upskilling and retraining will become the norm. Diversity and inclusiveness will be critical to a healthy workplace. Leaders must understand how this talent landscape is shifting and how to bring in the best and brightest talent who will enable the businesses of the future to thrive and succeed.
  • Morality, ethics, and transparency – Ethics determines the rules and laws of how we act within the workplace. Morality today is subjective, so people want to know and see what their leaders stand for. Leaders can no longer play in the grey areas. They must fight for social causes and for what they believe in. Employees want leaders to be transparent about what they care about, what they believe in, what is happening in the business and how the organisation is doing. This is huge in earning the trust and loyalty of your people.
  • Globalization – In the modern world our currency, our location, and the cultures we subscribe to are starting to matter less and less. The entire world is becoming like one big city. Information and ideas are all going around the world at the ‘speed of click’. As a leader how do you lead in this new kind of world?

Jacob Morgan also teamed up with Linkedin to survey almost 14,000 employees around the world and they found that only 21% of mid-level leaders and 29% of senior executives are aware of these trends and are taking actions to prepare for them.

Unlearning what enabled leaders to lead successfully in the past and retraining to be a relevant and successful leader are two critical behaviour leaders are going to have to embrace if they are serious about leading successful organisations in the future. This is a challenge to all of us.

Please feel free to share your insights with us about future leadership challenges. If you would want a consultation with us to explore how to lead in these turbulent times, please email me at antony@zifundise.com

Best wishes


   * Antony Jennings is Managing Partner of Zifundise Training and Consulting, a people development company based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

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