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The landscape of leadership has been rapidly changing and becoming a leader in the future will be different from being a leader 10 years ago, 5 years ago – even yesterday. Current leaders will need to adapt and potential leaders need to educate themselves about what will truly be required of them.

This article is based on the extensive knowledge of Fred Forum Speaker, Bob Johansen, a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute For The Future and published author of “The New Leadership Literacies”.


So, what does the future of leadership look like?

More leadership, less leaders

The magnitude of tasks and responsibilities which are required of leaders now often require them to turn towards leadership. Leaders aren’t able to do it all – they need to share roles, delegate, hire experts, consult teams and collaborate. In the future, this is likely to escalate as new opportunities for business growth arise. Leaders are asked to continue adapting and learning new skills.

More clarity, less certainty

Rigid rules may be a cause for trouble. It can be important for leaders to be prepared for flexibility, change and uncertainty. If leaders do choose to stick by rigid rules, they may fail to thrive. However, it can also be more important than ever for leaders to find clarity and to know what they are working towards. With so many distractions and different opportunities, it is crucial that clarity is used to guide leaders in their important decisions.

More digital, less in-person

With the advances of technology, there is likely to be more of a shift towards digital leadership than in-person leadership. With the younger generations being well-educated in media use, it can be important for cross-generational learning to occur. Adults can help younger people communicate better in-person (which may be a skill they lack after focusing on online communication), while younger people can educate adults about the use of technology and media.

More after-action reviews, less performance reviews

After-action reviews involve giving immediate feedback and adjusting the performance for the better as it unfolds. An after-action review looks at what was intended during the performance, what happened and what could be improved. This type of feedback may be more effective and become more commonly used than performance reviews, which often take longer and have a tendency to create fear.

To be most effective, after-action reviews should be practiced on a daily basis and need to become the norm, so people can become comfortable with receiving feedback and adapting to the feedback quickly.

More community, less hierarchy

The truth is that the majority of people can now communicate with nearly anyone else in the world. This has encouraged the growth of communities and strengthened the potential for global communication. It’s likely that this expansion of interaction will facilitate more community-focus from leaders and allow for less authority and hierarchy. 


What will be required of leaders?


Leaders will have to display resilience as they take more chances and risks. Control fear, experience failures and learn from their mistakes. This growth of resilience may be facilitated by access to technology, like video games, which allow players to learn quickly by making mistakes and having to try again and again in order to be successful.

Positivity and Hope

It will be important for leaders to convey positivity and hope via media and to build communities which focus on positive change. In this podcast episode, Bob Johansen explained that “Leaders will need to radiate positive energy at all times. Hope will be the key variable… Leaders will need to seed realistic hope in a future that will be laced with fear.”

Create opportunities for diversity to thrive

Leaders will need to focus on inclusivity and find new ways to allow diversity to thrive. Open-mindedness is important and leaders will need to facilitate this attitude within themselves and their teams and communities.

Insight and Foresight

Leaders may not be able to predict the future, but they do need to have insight, or intuition. With stronger insight, they are more likely to make better business decisions and prepare for the future in clever ways. Scenario planning and other activities which help leaders cultivate foresight will become even more important so that leaders can keep up with competition, strengthen their impact, or achieve better growth. Logical thinking, deduction and analysis are key components which cultivate foresight and should be used by leaders regularly to prepare for the future.


Leaders who express humour and humility will be more open to change. Less likely to take themselves too seriously, have greater resilience and work better in teams. At a time when interactions with the community are common and meaningful, leaders who show humour will be more likely to spark positive affect and gain support.


Finally, leaders will be required to communicate honestly, with enthusiasm and dedication. They need to have clarity around their goals. The ability to express these goals to others in ways which are meaningful and compelling.




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