5 New Leadership Literacies to Prepare for the Future

How Leaders Thrive in a Future of Extreme Disruption

If you want to get ready for the future, you need new leadership literacies. That’s what noted futurist Bob Johansen teaches those who aspire to lead well into the future. If you’re a rising star and want to prepare for what’s ahead, this book outlines future trends and skills you need in the decades to come.

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. He has worked with global organizations from P&G to Disney. He’s the author or co-author of ten books. His newest is The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything.

 

“Leaders will be very good at seeding hope for others.” -Bob Johansen

 

Warning: Disruptions Ahead

Share a few current trends that will disrupt everything in the next ten years.

I distinguish between trends (patterns of change you can extrapolate with confidence) and disruptions (breaks in the patterns of change). The next ten years will be a VUCA World—Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous—and it will get worse over the next decade. On the other hand, it will be possible to succeed, make the world a better place, and even thrive in the VUCA World. These new literacies will allow you to thrive, not just survive.

We think we are connected today, but the next 10 years will be a period of explosive connectivity and asymmetric upheaval. In this future world of dramatically amplified digital connectivity, anything that can be distributed will be distributed.

 

“Leaders will perform best at the edge of their competence.”-Bob Johansen

 

Master Distributed Leadership

You say that, “Leadership will be much less centralized and more distributed,” which seems to be happening today and accelerating more tomorrow. How will this impact us? How will organizational structures change in the future?

Shape-shifting organizations have no center, and they can’t be controlled. Hierarchies will come and go as they are needed. Hierarchies will become less common since they are more rigid.

Anything that can be distributed will be distributed.

 

“Leadership will be much less centralized and more distributed in the future.”-Bob Johansen

 

Copyright Bob Johansen; Used by Permission

 

“Leaders will have to practice foresight, insight, and action.”-Bob Johansen

How to Be a Good Leader Without Giving up All Your Time

This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews that offers some excellent foundational steps to balancing your time. Kayla writes about work productivity. Her work has been featured in Fast Company and other publications. You can join her newsletter here.

 

Don’t Give Up All Your Time

Being a leader is an important role. When your team is relying on you to help them through their problems, tasks and questions, it can feel like you’re getting pulled in a million different directions. While you may be trying to be a great leader, you can feel like you’ve been stretched too thin.

You must find a balance between being a great leader and having time of your own. Because you have your own tasks and jobs that you need to complete, you can’t spend all your time helping others. However, as a leader, you also need to be there for your team.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save some time while still giving your team the attention that they need. From time management hacks to automation processes, let’s take a look at a few of the things you should consider if you’re struggling to balance being a leader and maintaining your own schedule.

 

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” -Peter Drucker

 

1. Schedule Your Time

If you struggle to get anything done because your team comes to you for help at all hours of the work day, that may be causing major problems. While you want your team to feel comfortable asking you for questions or help, being available throughout the entire day can encourage them to come into your office when they don’t really need help.

Take some time to schedule your day and share it with your team. If you have certain blocks of time that you’d like to focus on your own projects, let them know you’re only to be disturbed for emergencies or if there isn’t anyone else that can help with that issue. That time is to be used for your own work and duties.

While you should schedule time for your work, you should also schedule some open availability with your team. Let them know when you’re free to chat, discuss minor details of a project or when your office door is open to them. If that time doesn’t work for them or they need to discuss something important, put time in your schedule to help them.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” -Jim Rohn

2. Use Automation Tools

Essential Daily Exercises for Becoming More Successful

Become Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful

 

Do you want to break old habits?

Do you want to manage your time more effectively?

Do you want to motivate your staff and be a more effective leader?

 

Rhett Power is cofounder of the toy company Wild Creations, named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies. He is a speaker and author and has written for numerous publications from Time to the Wall Street Journal. I recently spoke to him about his research on success.

He says that success today isn’t just taking a few steps, but it is available to all if you take action day after day, week after week. Rhett’s new book, The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful, focuses on 53 weeks to accomplish lasting change and success.

 


“Successful people create a supportive network.” -Rhett Power

 

Why Personal Development is Critically Important

As a busy entrepreneur, with multiple conflicting to-do lists, how do you prioritize personal development? Why is this critically important?

In my first business, I learned that if I didn’t take the time for personal development, then my business would suffer. I buried myself into making that first business work. I worked 20 hours a day seven days a week. After two years, I was nearly bankrupt, and I was physically and emotionally wiped out. I wasn’t reading, eating well, exercising, or spending time with family and friends. When I stopped to reevaluate my life and made significant changes, I saw dramatic results.

I started taking more time out of the business. When I was well rested, I made better decisions. When I started exercising, I had more energy and was more productive. When I started to take time for personal and professional growth, meaning spending time reading, researching, and planning, my business took off.

 


“Constant self-improvement is as important as a physical workout.” -Rhett Power

 

Overcome Your Fears

Let’s start with overcoming fears. You faced some seriously challenging days and, in the end, you now say that facing a fear helps you gain strength. What practical tips can you share for someone who feels paralyzed with fear?   

I have always believed I would rather have my fate in my own hands than in someone else’s. That is why I kept going even when times were tough, and I was scared we were going to fail. It’s important to understand that significant fear cannot be overcome overnight. That’s why it’s significant. To effectively deal with this kind of fear, it’s helpful to break down the object of your fear into small, more manageable parts. One of the benefits of breaking down a task that you fear is it can provide you with some insight as to what, specifically, about the task causes you to have fear.

The other thing that always makes me less fearful is preparation. Everyone remembers the feeling of confidence you get from being ready for that school exam. You also know the feeling of not being prepared. I find being over-prepared makes that feeling of fear turn into confidence.

Each time you face a fear, no matter how small, and overcome it, you gain great strength. That strength turns to courage and that courage to confidence in the doing–no matter what “doing” you might be called upon to do.

 

Reward and Recognize Good Work

You share the importance of valuing employees. As an entrepreneur, you also know that resources are often a challenge. What creative ways have you seen to accomplish this goal on a limited budget?

Even on the tightest budget, you should recognize and reward great work. Here are some things I do in my businesses:

  • Ask staff to post recognition notes to each other on a bulletin board. Add testimonies from external customers.
  • Give people time off. Time is the most precious gift, and people will always remember that afternoon or day to do what they love.
  • Send a letter to the employee’s family, telling them why their loved one is so important to the company’s mission.
  • Do one of the employee’s least favorite tasks.
  • Give a coffee or carwash gift card, sports or movie tickets.
  • Allow people to work from home or present them with a “flexible day” certificate.
  • Give departments their own week: Accounting Week, Programmer Week, etc. Recognize the contributions made, take them to lunch, make certificates.
  • Create opportunities: to be a mentor, chair a committee, do research.
  • Celebrate birthdays, babies, weddings, graduations, and any happy time.
  • Establish a “Wall of Fame” for photos and clippings that recognize outstanding achievements. Mention staff in the company newsletter, too.
  • Say, “I’m glad you’re here,” and “Thank you.”
  • Bring people together for cake and socializing or a meal like a potluck lunch.

 

Boost Your Bliss

Don’t Get Hooked! Why Successful People Don’t Take the Bait

Beware of Taking the Bait

You’re swimming peacefully. Then everything changes.

There it is, right in front of you. It’s amazing. It smells delicious. It’s yours for the taking!

You take a bite, just a little taste, you think, and then….

You’re hooked!

Someone has you, and they are reeling you in. You push and pull and thrash, but you can’t get away. You’re done.

That may be the perspective of a newly-caught fish on a summer morning, but it’s too often also a story that we identify with.

 

“Happiness can only be found if you free yourself of all other distractions.” -Saul Bellow

 

Beware of the Subtle Hooks

Every day we are surrounded with opportunities to throw us off our mission. If we aren’t careful, we are soon hooked onto something and getting dragged far away from our purpose:

  • News stories designed to pull us in with shock value.
  • Friends sharing the latest gossip.
  • Video games that make hours disappear.
  • Emails that are someone else’s priorities.
  • Texts and social media messages that are unimportant, but feel urgent.

 

“I’ve trained all my life to not to be distracted by distractions.” -Nik Wallenda

 

Where did the time go?

You May Live Past 100! Living in the Age of Longevity

How Long Will You Live?

When you’re young, you feel like you will live forever.

Soon enough, you realize that time is both fleeting and speeding by at a faster pace with each passing year.

Living to age 100 was once incredibly rare. When I was a teenager, I regularly visited a local nursing home, and it seemed most were in their 80s. Today, I know many people in their 80s and even 90s not only living on their own, but thriving, going to exercise classes, and even still driving.

100 just doesn’t seem impossible anymore.

Turns out, it’s not only possible, but now so common that it’s changing everything from the way we think and plan our lives.

Written by two professors from the London Business School, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, explores the implications of living much longer than we ever expected.

Here’s one statistic the authors shared with me that shocked me:

 

Research: More than half of millennials will live past 100.

 

Amazing.

Written by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, this book is full of surprising statistics and the implications for all of us. I recently spoke with author Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at the London Business School about their new work:

Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission. Oldest age by which 50% of babies born in 2007 are predicted to still be alive. Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission.
Oldest age by which 50% of babies born in 2007 are predicted to still be alive.

The Implications of the 100-Year Life

You open your book, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, with compelling statistics and proof. We are living longer and the implications are sweeping. Are we in the age of longevity?  What are some of the more obvious implications?

It’s well known that we are living longer, and there are more old people. However there is less understanding that there is strong evidence that each generation is living longer than the previous and is in general healthier for longer. Life expectancy has been increasing by about 2-3 years every decade for the last 200 years. That means that each generation lives around 6-9 years longer than the previous generation. There are major debates about how long and at what rate this can continue, but the signs are that best practice life expectancy is continuing to increase.

In our view people mistakenly take the fact that we are living for longer to mean that we are older for longer. They focus more on aging than longevity. However longevity means we have more years of life and will restructure our life accordingly. Many of our economic, financial and social patterns of behavior are based on an outdated view of life expectancy of around 70. We need to restructure to account for the likely possibility of a 100 year life.

With a long life we will see the end of the dominant model of a three stage life of education, work and retirement. Just as the twentieth century saw the emergence of new stages such as teenagers and retirees, so longevity will bring about whole new stages of life. Further in a multi-stage life, lockstep comes to an end. There is only one way to structure a three stage life – education, then work and retirement. There are many ways to structure a multi-stage life, so we will see the end of a strong link between age and stage. In the future you could be an undergraduate and be 20, 40 or 60. You could be a senior manager and be 30, 50 or 70. To support this multi stage life we will, and are already, seeing changes in how society structures itself. When life extends you reach previous milestones (such as marriage, having children, etc.) at different times, and ages are redefined.

 

“The antithesis of vitality is stress.” -Gratton / Scott

 

Work-life balance may become more important. What’s emotional spillover and how do we positively impact it?

If you take a 100 year life seriously and calculate how much you need to save for a pension, it’s likely that people will have to work in some form into their late 70s.  This is why we think a three stage life can’t survive as it involves a 60 year career. While working for 60 years may solve your financial problems, it does nothing to solve the deeper issues. We emphasize that living a good life requires investing in intangible assets – productive assets such as skills and knowledge, vitality assets such as health and friendships, and—of growing importance—transformational assets, the ability to deal with change and transitions. While working for longer solves your financial problems, it means your productive, vitality and transformational assets are run into the ground. This is why we think a multi stage life with breaks and transitions is inevitable, with people spending time in between stages recuperating and rebuilding their strength and talents. A longer career also means that at some points you may well take on a traditional job where financial assets are your main focus but at other points you will seek jobs that better balance life and work.

 

Stress at work is associated with a 20% increase of heart disease.

 

The Value of Education

Talk about education and how its value may change.

If working life extends over 60 years, it’s hard to think of any education you can learn at 20 that can last that long and remain that relevant. This is especially true if you believe the stories of technologists and the rise of Artificial Intelligence.  Either because your industry becomes obsolete or because your knowledge becomes outdated, you will need to seriously reinvest in education at different stages later in life. Perhaps this education will in part be provided by traditional sources, but it is also likely that we will see new organizations develop to fill the gap.

It is an interesting question then what you should learn when young if you know that at some point this knowledge will become obsolete. One common sense prediction is that when young you learn how to learn, how to think creatively and critically, and how to evaluate from a broad-based disciplinary perspective. Then you may add to this with some detailed specific technical knowledge knowing, however, that in a decade or more this may become irrelevant.

 

“In the end, long life is the reward, strength, and beauty.” -Grace Paley

 

Saving for the 100 Year Life

What are the implications for retirement? It seems daunting enough today to save with current lifespans.

As currently understood retirement is a product of three stage life thinking. It is already being undermined with a century long downward trend in those aged 65 staying on at work reversing itself. More and more people are either working past retirement or working after retirement.

Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission

In a multi-stage life you will need to prepare not just for eventual retirement but also for career breaks and career transitions, all of which will require financing. Lifetime planning will not just be about end of life planning.

Retirement will still exist, e.g. a time when you stop work, but it will occur later. At traditional retirement age you will see more varied behavior. Either people will choose to carry on in their existing roles and continue to earn if their skills and firm allow, or they will break and do something different. We are seeing a rise in entrepreneurship in people in their 60s. Becoming what we term “an independent producer” is an interesting option. In this stage of life you do something that blends work and fun together, earn just enough to cover your expenses and so keep your savings intact.

 

“If you want to live a long life, focus on making contributions.” -Hans Selye

 

I found the Downton Abbey effect fascinating. Would you share more about this and its implications?