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Leaders: Are you Future-proof?

Source | : By Bob Johansen

We think we are connected today, but the next ten years will be a period of explosive connectivity and asymmetric upheaval. In this future world of dramatically amplified digital connectivity, anything that can be distributed will be distributed. Most leaders—and most organizations—aren’t ready for this future.

Distributed Everything

We are on a twisting path toward—but never quite reaching—a place where everything will be distributed. This path will be characterized by increasing speed, frequency, scope, and scale of disruption. Younger leaders will be better prepared for this future than older leaders. Many young people are in a blended-reality world already with constant mobile online filters for the physical world. They are on online, unless they are off. For most adult leaders, we are offline—unless we are on. Quaintly, some leaders today still say they “log on” to the internet. And do we really need to capitalize the word internet any longer? I think not. It is pervasive already, but this is just the beginning. Leadership will be much less centralized and much more distributed in this future.

The hierarchical practices of leadership for centralized organizations will be brittle in a future world that is not only decentralized but also distributed. Firm structures will give way to shape-shifting organizational forms that function like organisms. Enduring leadership qualities like strength, humility, and trust will still be foundational, but the future will require new literacies for leading. It’s too late to catch up, but it’s a great time to leapfrog. Here are five leadership literacies for current and future leaders to take their own leap to the future.

Five Leadership Literacies

Learn to Look Backward from the Future. Trends consultancies and the business press tend to start from today’s world and work a few years out. Some of these consultancies focus on fashion or fads, which are short-term shifts in preferences or behavior. In contrast I’m suggesting that leaders leap ahead and focus ten or more years ahead, then work backward to identify opportunities today—given the external future forces of the next decade. In most fields, there is so much noise in the present that it is very hard to get a clear view of what’s going on or where things are going. The reason you look long is to develop the perspective necessary to come up with a good plan of action, a way forward, expressed with clarity and ideally as a story.



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