The leader of the future and the desire to change the world
5 September 2018 | Written by Alessandra De Carlo
The technological revolution will profoundly change the world of work and its protagonists: how will tomorrow's leaders be like?
Among the most profound social changes triggered by this fourth industrial revolution is undoubtedly the one involving how we work: much has been said and written about how much the most requested skills in the past are, at least in part, obsolete today and will be even more in the future. One of the most interesting and complete observers in this regard is the World Economic Forum which, in “The Future of Jobs”, outlines the profound changes generated by the “disruption” of current digital business models and new technologies and the evolution of skills sought after by the world of work.
Not only the context, but we will change too. By 2020 robotics, smart vehicles, self-learning machines and artificial intelligence will be part of our daily lives. The “sensory” structure of our physical reference context will change thanks to biotechnology, nanotechnology and new materials. All this will contribute to change not only the context but, over the years, even ourselves: to change will be our own “physiognomy” and this will make us psychologically and physically more tolerant of the ambiguity, variety and mutability of the context itself.
The world of work and new soft skills. These changes will transform the way we live, consume, work. There will be new works and others will disappear, with a relationship between the first and the second still not completely clear and the subject of much debate. Creativity, the ability to generate new ideas and stimuli, to connect the points of different worlds will become precious attitudes, the bases on which artificial intelligence can give its own incremental and exponential contribution.
Being creative will also be the necessary condition to be able to reap the greatest possible benefit from all that technology will allow us to do, surpassing reality with the imagination and the ability to reason only for incremental scenarios to which we will have educated our machines. At least in a first phase, robots will help us be much faster and more precise in analyzing and selecting data and scenarios, but they won’t be more creative or prolific of us in imagining new ones.
Creativity, empathy and desire: the keys to success. For this reason the good old techniques of negotiation and decision making, taught and celebrated by the most prestigious university and management classes of the last millennium, will quickly lose their appeal compared to attitudes such as the ability to create fantasies and scenarios from scratch, but above all empathize with others, intuit and quickly develop networks and synergies between people, connect emotionally and deeply with our interlocutors.
Therefore, the most precious resource, next to creativity, will be desire: the desire to learn, discover, improve, but also the desire for beauty, good, true and just.
The same desire that has driven the great conquerors and great inventors, and has therefore created all that surrounds us in terms of progress.
The primacy of individual leadership based on intellectual superiority, on the information asymmetry between leaders and followers (and on the supremacy of the former over the latter) becomes, in this new scenario, totally inadequate and even grotesque. Leave the post, following the process of democratization enabled by the Internet and technology, to a new reality where the true leader is someone who desires stronger than others a better future, for themselves and for others, and sees the vision. Starting from this desire that becomes a vision the new leader knows how to “create contexts” and enable a climate of collaboration, synergy, collective thought, enhancement of the talents of each one, as Linda Hill of the Harvard Business School describes in her “Collective Genius”.
To support and prepare these leaders, then, we need a Copernican revolution, analogous to the industrial, economic and social one, which also invests the so-called “schools” of leadership and, more generally, the whole world of education.
This brings with it a provocation that is also a question for each of us, which projects itself and its professionalism in this scenario: and if indeed the only competence to train relentlessly was the desire to change and the desire to continue to learn?