What the leader of the future looks like

the future organizationThe leader of the future is very different than the one we are used to talking about. How so? Consider three things:

  1. The digitization of the enterprise;
  2. Women are leaving the workforce in droves to start their own businesses;
  3. Millennials have replaced boomers as the largest segment of the workforce.

To deal with the challenge of this new workforce’s demands, the digitization of the enterprise, diversity, and thinking about the bigger picture, established companies are creating new roles; including the dreaded Chief Innovation Officer. And to bring the entrepreneurial mindset inside their four walls, some consultants are advising established companies to create a new role where an entrepreneur acts as visionary side-by-side with a traditional CEO; which is not so different from what many startups do to scale a company.

Many argue that we’re making a big deal about millennials influence on the workplace. Are we? I don’t think so. Every generation is different and thus has a different view of what they want the world to be. We, millennials, have a very different approach to getting work done as well as what it means to us; beyond just getting a paycheck.

Traditionally, for leaders of established businesses future proofing their business means either disrupting themselves (the least common) and changing it’s business model, investing in the core business until it is no longer relevant, which then leads to acquiring “innovators” to make up for their lack of imagination.

The last option isn’t enough because “acquiring innovation” is just as risky as “producing innovation”, though the former is more difficult to recover from because of cultural differences.

As a leader, your best bet is to fill your current ranks with the very people who will create the future; young and unsatisfied millennials.

To think about creating a future where you are no longer the King of The Hill requires a different mindset and behavior. First off, you have to be willing and able to give people authority to think about how, if given the resources and support, they would kill your business.

Why does this matter? Because organizations of the future will look very different:

I can’t overstate this enough, but we are ways from adapting to this new world where the old guard no longer holds the strings and is entering a game they don’t know how to play.

A game where:

  • The leader of the future creates the context so others can innovate;
  • The leader of the future is not a boss, but a coach;
  • The leader of the future learns and connects differently with the world;
  • The leader of the future is driven by purpose to make a difference;
  • The leader of the future breaks all stereotypes.

Bottom line: The leader of the future is a learning animal, worldly, collaborative, entrepreneurial, innovative and driven to make a difference in society. People like this don’t fit a common role, rather your job as a leader is to find and create a role for them.

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A world without human drivers?