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A Leadership Map for the Future

A Leadership Map for the Future

- 2003 Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D., CBC
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Jan/Feb 2004 Article

Predictions for the future can be stimulating and challenging, especially if one is a top executive in a business enterprise attempting to make strategic decisions. Our rapidly changing global environment presents problems never before encountered. No one knows what will be required of leaders in the future, but some speculation is worthy of our attention.

Predictions from experts in their fields have not always been accurate. Here are a few examples:

oIn 1899 the U.S. Commissioner of patents, Charles Duell, declared, 'Everything that can be invented has been invented.'

oIn 1905, President Grover Cleveland prophesied, 'Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.'

New industries are already well on their way to becoming established products and services for the future: micro-robotics, machine translations in real time, urban traffic systems, bio-mimetic materials, machines capable of emotions, inference and learning, and bioremediation for cleaning up the earth's environment are a few.

Each of these opportunities is by nature global, with no single nation or region likely to control all the technologies and skills required to turn them into reality. Any firm wishing to become a leader will have to collaborate with and learn from customers, technology providers, and suppliers wherever they are located (Hamel & Prahalad, Competing for the Future, 1994).

To be sure, some leadership qualities will always remain the same: intelligence (emotional as well as cognitive), confidence, ability to articulate and inspire a vision, ability to motivate, unfaltering optimism, perseverance, resilience, and strategic decision making.

New research confirms several leadership competencies that will gain in priority over the next few years and into the future.
1. Thinking globally
2. Appreciating cultural diversity
3. Developing technological savvy
4. Building partnerships and alliances
5. Sharing leadership
(Global Leadership: the Next Generation; Goldsmith, M., Greenberg, C. L., Robertson, A. & Hu-Chan, M.; FT Prentice Hall, 2003).

Harlan Cleveland goes so far as to say that leadership will be so shared that there will be Nobody in Charge! (John Wiley & Sons, 2002). With the flattening of hierarchies and dissolving of boundaries, the ability to galvanize attention and move disparate groups of people forward will require excellent negotiation and consensus-building skills.

Communicating across multi-cultural and multi-generational communities is becoming more important as a competency for leaders in the future. And, a lot more of managing and leading will have to be done virtually.

Only a few of the prominent business schools have begun to teach new and future leaders how to manage diverse cultures in a virtual environment. Yet this is a clearly emerging competency.

Even smaller companies will be required to work in a global environment. Expect to see an increase in diversity issues arise in leadership development programs. The use of executive coaches is expected to gain priority as a primary tool for developing competencies for leaders.

Patsi Krakoff

About the Author
Patsi Krakoff is a licensed psychologist and business coach specializing in creating customized newsletters and quality content for executive coaches/consultants. She can be reached at, or through Send an email to to receive a report The ROI for Coaching and other articles.


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