Oct 31 2011
It is understandably difficult to predict the business environment of the future, and it may possibly be unwise to try to do so. The past couple of decades have seen changes that have emphasized why this is so difficult to predict and plan for – huge advancements in technology, changes in the global political landscape and economic turbulence have characterized this time and are often impossible to forecast.
Therefore it may be the case that the leaders of the future will have to work in similar times of change – a situation that would require them to be adaptable in the way that they work and manage people.
In a discussion for Harvard Business Review, several management thought leaders shared their ideas about the key skills that would be essential to business leaders of the future.
- Empathy is essential – you need to be able to understand the people you are leading in order to understand their emotions and what motivates them
- Devotion to the interests of others, whether in their community, their society, or their organization
- It is important to always explain why – why you’re doing something, why you’re asking someone to do something, and so on – it forces you to identify the underlying values behind your requests or actions and conveys a sense of accountability
- Curiosity – we live in a complex world and increasingly are working across boundaries. The most effective way to manage this is to be curious and inquisitive about different environments and situations
- Mindfulness – i.e. the process of noticing new things. This allows you to take advantage of new opportunities and avoid the dangers not yet arisen. Having an environment of mindful leaders means you will not have people applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems.
- A clear sense of your calling or purpose – many people are extremely talented or capable in their field of interest but perhaps are not sure why exactly they do what they do.
Many if not all of the values cited in the discussion could be considered timeless – they are skills that are already greatly valuable now and not just in business but in all areas of life, but may take on extra significance in the future. It may be that in times of great change and turmoil, it is not necessarily just competencies that are the most important thing in ensuring success but also certain personality traits.
Increasing diversity and complexity in the structure of businesses has led to more emphasis being placed on horizontal management, operating through lateral relationships rather than hierarchies. In such a structure, greater importance is placed on communication and leadership with a clearly identified strategy and vision which means emphasis may shift to personality traits amongst leaders rather than existing procedures.
You can view the video of the Harvard Business Review discussion below:
This article was written by Chris Storey, Marketing Assistant at the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).
BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in 74 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.
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