I was fortunate enough to be a guest of getAbstract for a dinner with Bob Johansen. Bob is the author of Leaders Make the Future. The premise of the book is that true leaders do not wait for the future passively. Instead they take proactive steps to shape it. Johansen predicts that the future will be a "VUCA" world of "volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity" — marked by insecurity, environmental collapse, and diasporas (groups with a common interest dispersed geographically). Bummer. So instead of the gloom and doom, future leaders should build a different "VUCA" future of "vision, understanding, clarity, and agility" by developing 10 new leadership skills.
Leveraging the getAbstract service, I found that Johansen postulates that in addition to possessing the traditional leadership skills of:
- physical and mental discipline
- active attention to maintain focus
- preparedness to deal with eventualities
- patience to know when to push and when to back off
- storytelling and listening to teach and inspire
- humble strength
- synchronicity to decipher patterns and connections
future leaders will:
Hone their maker instincts. They will leverage their natural curiosities about how things work and then improve them.
Provide clarity by cutting through conflicting facts and opinions to establish viable paths to future successes.
Flip dilemmas to discover otherwise veiled opportunities.
Sharpen their immersive learning abilities to understand their products and services better. Microsoft calls this "eating one's own dog food." At Autodesk we prefer "drinking one's own champagne."
Develop bio-empathy — an appreciation of nature's cycles of change and the role that humans play in it.
Engage in constructive depolarizing to help different factions understand each another and get along better.
Provide a quiet transparency by being open and honest about what matters to them.
Carry out rapid prototyping to test, fail, learn, and test again. "Fail early, fail often, and fail cheaply."
Harness smart mobs to achieve goals by recognizing that, though unpredictable, online communities spontaneously gather to fulfill shared goals.
Create win-win scenarios by recognizing "commons" — mutually beneficial assets.
Problem-solving leaders are typically uncomfortable with the idea that one cannot solve dilemmas. At Autodesk we are looking for good design to help address the diasporas of climate change, rural to urban migration, and biological concerns. Our maker instinct is embodied in many aspects of what we do - most notably instructables.com. We are proud of our bio-empathy in that the EPA recognized Autodesk as one of the nation’s leading green power purchasers. Autodesk Labs is our organized effort for rapid prototyping. And thanks to Shaan Hurley, the Johnny Appleseed of blogging at Autodesk, we reach out to our customers daily through social media.
Leadership is alive in the lab.