Ready Yourself for the Future
Leaders can make the future. Leaders can decide what kind of future they want to create and go for it.
GIVEN THE FUTURE FORCES of the next decade…
- Where do you stack up in terms of your current leadership skills?
- Are you ready to lead in a future that will be volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous?
- How could you improve your own readiness?
Here you can consider your own readiness for the future – given the forces of the next decade – as well as draw some conclusions about leadership in the years to come.
Leadership Questions to Ask Yourself
You now have an opportunity to assess your own readiness for the future. Use the questions below to spark your own thinking about leadership and how you might like to develop yourself as a leader in the future. You have to decide what kind of leader you will want to be, but challenges from the future can bring out more of your own innate leadership gifts. There will be many new skills for future leaders to learn.
Answer the questions below as candidly as you can. The questions are grouped around the ten future leadership skills. They are intended to help you personalize the ten future leadership skills and point to how they might apply to your own leadership development.
These are personal questions. Leadership begins from the inside, from your own values and point of view. Leaders can make a better world, but it will take an inner balance and personal discipline.
Please ponder these questions and think about them personally. These are meant to be discerning questions, but you need to decide what they mean for you.
1: DO YOU HAVE A MAKER INSTINCT?
- When you were a child, think back to the ways in which you played in sand or the dirt. What kinds of things did you make? What did you enjoy the most? How has this experience contributed to your leadership style as you have matured?
- How would you describe your interests as an adult in how things work, beyond just what gets produced as output? How does this interest translate into your own leadership style and skills?
- How do you express your own do-it-yourself urges to cook, sew, knit, work with wood, design, write, or do other tasks where you are either making or remaking? How do these instincts contribute to your role as a leader? Are there ways you could bring these skills to work more often?
2: DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH CLARITY?
- Think back to a recent meeting in which you had trouble getting your point across. What were the characteristics of that situation? How did you respond as you tried to be clear? Would the people you lead describe your leadership as clear?
- How often have you been complimented about your clarity in expression in any medium? Think of some specific examples. How do you express clarity in purpose through your leadership? Is your intent clear to those you lead?
- How would you express your own personal leadership legacy in a single compelling sentence? What leadership skills will be most important in order for your legacy to be successful?
- How would you express your organization’s Strategic Intent or Winning Proposition in a single compelling sentence? How do your leadership skills contribute to that winning proposition?
3: CAN YOU FLIP DILEMMAS?
- Think about a specific dilemma you have faced in your recent experience. When you could not solve it, how did that make you feel? How did you respond? How did you explore ways to flip the dilemma around so that it could become an opportunity?
- Do you get energized when you are in the midst of doing a puzzle, before you solve it, or even if you cannot solve it? How do you apply that energy to explore ways to flip dilemmas into opportunities as part of your leadership?
- Are you willing to decide and move ahead when a decision needs to be made, even when you don’t have a solution? Think of a decision you’ve had to make where there was no apparent solution.
- Think of a case where you were able to flip a dilemma into something positive. What leadership skills did you demonstrate in doing this? Where might you be able to improve?
4: DO YOU HAVE AN IMMERSIVE LEARNING ABILITY?
- Do you seek out new experiences from which you could learnespecially situations that make you feel uncomfortable? Think of a recent example and how that experience has contributed to your leadership
- Have you recently immersed yourself in a different world in order to learn? What did you learn? How did that learning get expressed in your leadership?
- How have you participated in games or simulations in your organization? Would you be willing to do so if someone else suggested it? Do you encourage the use of gaming and simulation as a learning medium?
5: DO YOU HAVE BIO-EMPATHY?
- As you were growing up, did you live in or frequently visit outdoor spaces like forests, oceans, farms, ponds, or parks? How did you play outside in nature? How does this experience contribute to your leadership today?
- Do you have an emotional need to be in natural settings frequently and learn from the experiences you have in nature? How do you satisfy that need? How does this emotional connection to nature contribute to your leadership?
- When you were in school, were you attracted to biology, life sciences, zoology, geography, anthropology, or other similar courses? Do you think of yourself as an amateur or professional life scientist, biologist, geographer, or natural scientist?
- How do you look to nature for insight about challenges you have in your life? How do these life lessons get translated into your leadership style and skill set?
6: CAN YOU CONSTRUCTIVELY DEPOLARIZE A SITUATION?
- How are you able to look at the world through the eyes of others, including those who make you feel uncomfortable? How do you express your curiosity about other cultural practices that are different from your own? Can you give some recent examples?
- How do you listen and learn from people who come from unfamiliar cultures where you have little experience? Are you judgmental about cultural habits and practices that do not conform to your own values?
- Have you traveled globally as a way of learning about people who think differently from you? When you do travel, do you seek out opportunities to learn how people in other cultures live? What have you learned about constructive depolarization by thinking across cultures?
- Think of an example where you have calmed a polarized situation and constructively engaged people toward some new path forward. How did you respond? What worked? What did not work?
7: DO YOU HAVE QUIET TRANSPARENCY?
- How do you share your reasons for doing things with others, especially with those whom you are leading? Would the people you lead characterize you as quietly transparent?
- How do you express trust toward others-particularly people you are leading? Do the people you lead feel that you trust them? How do you embody this trust in your leadership style?
- Do you have a strong need for others to recognize your accomplishments? Would the people you lead say that you have a strong need for personal recognition? Can you think of a recent experience where you demonstrated quiet transparency in your leadership, showing both strength and humility?
- Has anyone ever referred to you as humble? What do those situations where you have shown humility have to say about your own leadership?
8: CAN YOU DO RAPID PROTOTYPING?
- Are you anxious to tryout things as soon as possible in order to learn what works and what does not? Give a recent example of when you have done this as part of your role as leader.
- Early on in a new task, do you get frustrated or impatient if things don’t work right away? If so, how do you work through that frustration?
- Think of an example where you kept trying out different approaches to a new idea over and over again, in a rapid prototyping process. What did this experience reveal about your own leadership style? What additional skills could help you do this better?
- What is an example where you were able to learn from your own failures? How does your approach to “failure” fit in with your own leadership style? Do you encourage people you lead to learn from their own failures?
9: CAN YOU DO SMART MOB ORGANIZING?
- Do you find it satisfying to bring together groups of people? What are recent examples where you have done this? What aspects of this process do you find most satisfying?
- Do you like to reach out and network with others, both in person and through online media?
- Do you have a personal rule of thumb with regard to which medium is best for a given situation?
- Are you able to use online social media in your role as leader? Have you practiced your leadership skills through a range of different media? How does your use of online media leadership compare to your in-person leadership?
10: CAN YOU DO COMMONS CREATING?
- Do you seek out and try to create situations where multiple parties benefit (as opposed to a situation in which you alone win)? Can you give recent examples when you have tried to do this, whether or not your efforts were successful?
- Have you ever given anything away in order to get more in return? Think back and describe how this process worked. Was it a win/win situation in the end?
- Have you read about historical efforts to create commons that reward both individuals and larger groups? What lessons do you take away from these historical experiences? What is different about the new commons?
- Do you like to read fantasy fiction or scenarios about how things could be or might be in the future? What writing do you find most relevant to your own leadership?
Adapted from Leaders Make The Future by Bob Johansen, Distinguished Fellow, and former President of Institute for the Future
What do you think about this? We’d love to know. Invite us in for a conversation to learn how Alexsa Consulting can help you and your leadership team lead your organization into a future that matters!