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The challenges of future leadership

Posted by: Angela
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“You are a class with far more insight than many of the Fortune 500 HR directors”, quoted from an executive from Cisco, who was invited to speak at our class at London Business School, an elective course taught by Professor Lynda Gratton – Craft the future of work. Isn’t it an inspiring comment? Last week a mixed group of students from MBA, EMBA and Sloan, probably the most diversified class with different nationalities and even different generations – the Gen X and Gen Y, sitting together for a week, crafting the future, How the future will look like? What it will mean to us? What it will mean to our organization?

As we started to understand how the 5 forces will shape our future, we spent the last day in the course trying to understand what the challenges are for the future leadership in 2030. and here are the top five take away last Friday:

Fragmentation in life
Technology has made significant changes in our life, and it has brought a great deal of convenience to us. but it also changed our behavior over time. we keep constantly checking email, answering phone calls, and people expect each other to be responsive instantly. In reality, we live in a three-minute fragments time. How does the future leader do to keep a high productive team? This will require our own attention on self management – to keep our capability of concentration and learning in a fragmented life– at the same time still be perceived as accessible. This will also require our creativity in leading our staff to a high performing team who also live in fragmented lives.

Shorter Business Cycle
We are now in a much faster pace environment in many business area, thanks to technology and information, as the world is more transparent. when leaders facing the challenges of shorter business cycles, the business strategy we developed today may not work tomorrow. we need constantly keep track of our tactics. Be flexible and resilient.

Open innovation
The world is no longer closed, it won’t work the way as before. this is then linked to the concept of crowd sourcing. I was impressed by one of the speakers last week, when he talked about using crowd sourcing, he was able to make his project with 90% less cost, and completed very quickly. This then leads to the thoughts that the person who you think will be best qualified for the job isn’t always the best person to do it. For me, an sourcing professional in the industry for the last 12 years, it pushed me to think about what this will mean to a sourcing leader? how do we balance the long term partnership vs. crowd sourcing? time to revisit our toolkits and strategy…

Virtual Community
Over the years, international companies developed their organization and we see more and more virtual team management happens. With the carbon challenges we are facing, we will see more and more expensive in traveling. this will require our capability to survive in virtual environment. Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube etc.. all provided a platform of virtual social community. How we as leaders develop the trust, belief  among our staff , influence and lead effectively? How do we secure the productivity and high performance in a virtual environment? how does employees seek for coaching and mentoring on a day to day basis? This is indeed a challenge for us all.

Global Mindset
The force of globalization has shaped our business and our world become more flat. Unlike our parent, the challenges we are facing are the global talent pool, 24/7 operations. As the future leader, how do you lead and inspire such global talent team? Do you have the right intellectual capital- the right master knowledge over the others? Do you have the proper emotional capital – developed your resilience in leadership?  Do you have enough social capital – understanding the culture and developed the network? All in all, it is crucial to increase our international exposure to develop all the capabilities above.

The class completed last Friday, but it is not over, it is probably just a start, a start of exploring our future, a start of developing ourselves to be a future proofed leader, a start of crafting our career, our organization to prepare for the future shift. As professor Gratton suggested in the end of the class, let’s stay connected, yes. let’s stay connected in the fascinating future world.

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