What skills and qualities will be necessary for the leaders of the future? To thrive in a world of vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity–or a “Vuca” world, as Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future calls it–leaders will need at least ten new skills to thrive, throwing old paradigms out the window and shaking the current foundations of leadership.
Drawing from the latest ten-year forecast, Johansen argues that leaders who can combine vision, agility, understanding, and clarity can survive in a world of extreme uncertainty. The ten critical leadership skills he outlines in a new book, Leaders Make the Future are:
Dilemma Flipping: Can you turn problems that can’t be solved into opportunities?
Bio-empathy: How well do you learn from and apply the principles of nature in your leadership?
Constructive Depolarizing: Can you constructively depolarize tense situations and help people from different cultures work together?
Immersive Learning Ability: Can you immerse yourself in a different-from-you physical and online world and learn from them?
Maker Instinct: Do you have an instinct to build, or create new things?
Clarity: Can you see through confusion and contradictions to a future that others cannot yet see?
Quiet Transparency: Are you open and authentic abut what matters to you, without advertising yourself?
Rapid Prototyping: Are you willing to fail quickly, often, and cheaply to learn and build success later on?
Smart Mob Organizing: How adept are you at bringing together and nurturing purposeful business or social change networks through intelligent use of electronic media?
Commons Creating: Can you stimulate and grow assets that can benefit others and allow for greater competition?
Johansen discussed these qualities at the 2010 WorkLife Conference sponsored by The Conference Board and the Families and Work Institute on March 25-26. This year’s theme was Leading in the “New Normal” Economy: How Employers and Employees Can Thrive Now and in the Future. Speakers at the conference made clear that the future of work and life will be defined by an increasing amount of complexity, choice, flexibility, and customization. The business community and the workforce will no longer be defined by rigid hierarchies, leaders will need to adopt more specialized skills to deal with uncertainty, and the workforce will experience a shift towards more flexibility in the way work gets done.
As part of the WorkLife Conference, Corporate Voices sponsored an evening reception panel that featured Terrell McSweeny, domestic policy advisor to Vice President Biden, and deputy assistant to President Obama. McSweeny gave an overview of the work the Middle Class Task Force has done to address issues facing working families in America.