Getting Future Fit: Do we have what it takes?

Business reality

This morning I went to a Bank of England briefing and consultation with a few other business leaders in my region of the UK. There were some paradoxes that the Bank of England representative hadn’t met before and for a short time the conversation focused on a lack of confidence in the workforce to move to new employers. Some had encountered that employees chose to stay on a lower salary because it was less scary than a jump into the unknown. As expected, the conversation soon turned back to economic indicators, interest rates and Brexit. Although I tried to bring the conversation back to the importance of investing in the workforce to build confidence, I gained little traction and felt saddened that people issues were put into the “too difficult” box.

Last week I was speaking with the owner of a significant business who was lamenting the appointment of a new joint MD who had failed to cut the mustard. This person had come from a larger competitor and whilst he talked the talk, didn’t have an understanding of how to make decisions nor the presence to lead people. The conclusion was that he had spent the previous few years in the middle management layer of his former employer and had not had the benefit of development and exposure to the complex internal and external demands that executive leaders need to face today.

Business in the context of our complex world

Of course, the context of these conversations is hugely significant: the external conditions in which we are struggling to survive. We all know that human beings have never before been faced with the mix of social, political, economic, environmental, and technological challenges that exist today. Yet there seems to be an expectation that people should be able to step up and surprise when they can’t. What kind of leadership does our world need right now? How do we ensure that we as leaders are fit for this future, for the challenging conditions of our time?

My observation is that current conditions are largely being met with a range of negative reactions such as avoidance, confusion, anger, blame, and fear. I admit that these arise in me as well at times—I’m only human! These reactions are bringing out unhelpful behaviours that impact negatively on productivity and effectiveness. And I’m not alone in this observation. Unsurprisingly others have recognised it before me and are doing something about it to equip our leaders of today and tomorrow to respond creatively, purposefully, and constructively.

Where can we start?

This is why we at Future Considerations have invited Meg Wheatley to lead a retreat in November. Meg has identified that it is going to take a different type of leader to take us forward to a future in which we can not only survive but also thrive. Meg’s developmental training of “Warriors of the Human Spirit” identifies a very different model of leader from the heroic leaders we have grown an expectation for in recent times. These new “Warriors” who can stand on the shoulders of the generations of warriors who have gone before will have:

  • A strong self-awareness with a tamed ego and presence grounded in the reality of current conditions
  • A mindset that values and serves the health and wellbeing of people and the planet
  • A set of skills that enables them to bring out the best in themselves and others
  • A community to support, challenge and provide partners that draws on the teachings of warrior traditions who drew upon the best human capacities for their campaigns of peaceful service.

We hosted a retreat with Meg Wheatley (17-19 Nov 2017) and invited those who wish to begin their own warrior development. Being a leader into the future is a big ask of anyone, hence it is important that no-one goes alone. 35 people will rose to the challenge together, hand in hand with Meg to explore the type of leadership that the world needs right now.

Now it is your turn to How does this definition of “leader” differ from yours? What is it about Meg’s Warriors of the Human Spirit that will be most important in today’s complex world? Take a couple of moments and write your thoughts / feelings in the comment section below and let’s see how you and the other readers of this blog perceive what is needed to get future fit.

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