Leadership Essentials for the Future

Leadership for the future needs courage, curiosity and connection

How do leaders get ready for the future, and even just deal with our current times?

With increasing discussions on AI, volatility in the markets and increasing speed of business cycles, our focus area of being ‘futurist’ has become an important discussion with clients.

But what does it mean to be futurist? I’ve had some interactions and experiences lately that have all pointed to three elements: curiosity, courage and connection.

A starting point for being futurist is curiosity. As leaders, it is essential to be curious. Curious about the world, the overall economy, our sector, other sectors, people in our world. And curious about what is happening in places we don’t normally look in! What does this look like?
It could be going to different sources for our regular information, listening to people we don’t normally listen to. Why not ask the youngest and newest person in your team what they think about a situation? Why not ask someone who is not an ‘expert’ in what you are dealing with?
You might be surprised what you hear and what new ideas can emerge from that.

Another crucial part of being futurist is courage. For many years, I have played small as a leader and business owner, not taking many risks. If only I had known what happens when you boldly step forward, even if you do not know how something will work out! If you reinvent, try out things, and get people on board to invest in things that matter. Being courageous helps us take action when things are uncertain and be willing to fail and look bad!
How will we know if something works, particularly something new and original, if we don’t try it? Being futurist requires plenty of courage to go for things even if the outcome is uncertain.

Underpinning both curiosity and courage is the third aspect that fuels being futurist: connection. Whilst being curious and courageous, it is our connection with others that will sustain it all! If your curiosity has taken you down a path that didn’t work out, if your courage has got you into challenging spaces – it is the connection with your team that will carry you through it! Cherish human connection, make sure you look after your people and network as a foundation of being futurist: the future is after all still very much created by humans.

The other day, a client of mine was willing to take the risk – he decided to invest in a day that would provide connection for his senior leadership team, at a time where he could have thought they could not ‘afford’ it. What he got right in that moment is to realise how closely linked connection, curiosity and courage are! He knew that without connection, it’s not worth being courageous or curious.

How would you define being futurist? What does it mean for you in your life and leadership?

Judith Haupt – Founder and Managing Director