Photo of someone standing at the top of some stairs

Future Leadership – the future focused leader

Claire Barraclough 14th December 2020

‘The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented’, wrote Dennis Gabor, a Physics Nobel Prize Winner, in 1963.

Here we are in December 2020, at the end of the calendar year Some may think ‘thank goodness!’, however the uncertainty of this year may well continue into 2021. During the first lockdown in 2020, a friend told me that President Barak Obama had ‘predicted’ almost 5 years ago, that a global pandemic was likely to happen in the coming years. I think this was more speculation, than prediction. To me, a prediction implies certainty.  Take Ursula Southeil, for example, the famous Yorkshire prophetess, (1488-1561), better known as Mother Shipton. Disguised as poems, she made some remarkably accurate predictions of the future, including the arrival of the internet, no less.

Sadly, I neither possess the magical abilities of Mother Shipton, nor am I quite sure how to invent the future, as open as I remain to either possibility! However, I am content to be committed to the future through the actions I take today.

Future Leadership is also about being committed to taking actions, actions that are based in sound judgement and values.  Future focused leaders care about the future of the people in their organisations and the organisations themselves.

Here are six future leadership commitments that we can aspire to as a future focused leader.

  • Generate shared leadership across their organisations and networks – future focused leaders care about creating other leaders, not just followers. They are committed to the development and connectivity of their colleagues because they know that collaboration is key to success. It only through shared leadership that organisations will innovate, adapt and evolve to what lies ahead.
  • Create organisational outcomes for the benefit of all – future focused leaders are leaders who want to create workplaces that can benefit all involved, planet, people, performance.  This isn’t an ideological statement.  Organisations are about people and even by making the smallest changes, these can have a ripple effect on their community and beyond.
  • Break down barriers across organisations – future focused leaders want to identify obstacles that prevent collaboration, to bring people together and work with others to create better possibilities. They apply critical judgement to co-develop, meaningful organisations, which can function across boundaries.
  • Embed collaborative and dialogic skills across the organisation – future focused leaders are passionate about understanding their organisational system with others.  This creates the space and opportunity to make sense of complex and uncertain environments, understand what is possible so they can lead with confidence.
  • Develop diverse and inclusive organisational cultures – future focused leaders are relentless in co-creating organisations with dynamic, innovative, and adaptive cultures. For them, diversity equals sustainability. They know that a vibrant and healthy organisational culture is essential for great teams to grow in.  And the growth of people is what makes an organisation thrive.
  • Establish leadership as a practice – just like drinking one glass of water does not quench your thirst for life, future focused leaders understand that leadership is a continuous practice of actions based on intelligent judgements, core beliefs and values. It is embedded in their core professional and organisational values and purpose

2020 has been a crazy, tumultuous year that no-one could have predicted.  What lies ahead is unclear, but we believe that to make workplaces better for everyone, we need to break down barriers and collaborate.  And that’s a future leadership challenge that we can all commit to. So, until Mother Shipton’s ‘Poetic Predictions of the Future’ online training programme becomes available, I am satisfied to adopt these commitments and keep drinking the water.