What will leaders need to be effective in the future? Let’s start with a premise that the best leaders are great learners. Next, peek into the future to look at what our next generation will need to learn to be successful in the future. There is no crystal ball, but there is plenty of research that can help open our minds to what might be.
In a piece on Marketplace, Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA points to a future where many of the middle class jobs that exist today will be replaced with robots. Futurist Paul Saffo and other experts categorized the skills young people will need to succeed in this increasingly competitive space: analytic and quantitative skills; social awareness, social IQ as I call it; creative problem-solving; the ability to be adaptable; language skills, foreign languages; and then of course, communications skills. I see significant overlap with leadership capacity particularly in these 4 areas: social awareness, creative problem-solving; the ability to be adaptable, and communications skills. Using Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, an evidence based model that has over 25 years of research behind it, these 4 seem to fall squarely into their practices called “Challenge the Process” and “Enable Others to Act. Doesn’t it make sense then to make leadership development available as early and as often and in as many ways as possible?
In the same piece Jonas Prising, the president of Manpower’s Americas division, adds this perspective:
“The very rapid change means that it’s going to be hard to be proficient at a skill that will take you through 40 years of workforce career. So your ability to be adaptable is going to be extremely important.
This is all pretty heavy lifting in a country where the public schools are struggling, kids rank 21st internationally in math and 25th in science. Prising says mastering those basic skills — not to mention things like creativity and adaptability — is the most daunting task ahead.”
Daunting indeed. So why are we asking our schools to do all the “heavy lifting”? Why not introduce leadership development early and often as we prepare people for the future, not just in the schools, but in all organizations that want to fill themselves with the talent that will help them adapt and grow into the increasingly competitive times ahead. Check out their cool Future-Jobs-O-Matic tool.