To Lead or To React?

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Why the World Needs Leaders to Shape a Positive Future

IF YOU LISTEN to futurists today share their ideas of what’s to come tomorrow, you’d think you stumbled onto a science fiction channel. And even if half of what we hear is non-fiction, it’s abundantly clear we’re just beginning to experience the kind of change that only comes around in a thousand years.Sound a bit over the top?

Nicholas Negroponte thinks we will learn Shakespeare or a new language by ingesting a pill. Knowledge will be released into the bloodstream and when it reaches the brain, we’ll be conjugating French verbs and reciting Romeo’s balcony speech perfectly.

According to Neha Narula, programmable money, like Bitcoin, will one day overtake our use of paper money. She believes this new monetary system will improve security and give consumers a chance to sell their spending patterns to retailers and other organizations.

The future of jobs, according to Andrew Mcafee, will continue to create a divide between the haves and the have-nots, all based on access to and proficiency in technology.

Peter Diamandis thinks human beings are transforming on and off the planet. He wants human intelligence (HI) to always be directing and guiding our use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Elon Musk thinks in the near future the internet will connect with the human brain. You’ll never have to use a camera again. Whatever you think or see, will get digitated and stored on the Net.

Many believe that by 2035 – just 15 years from now – human beings and technology will merge, creating a “Singularity” that’ll forever change the experience of what it means to be human. Some see this level of change to be as significant as when the lungfish crawled out of the ocean 40 million years ago that brought the first life to land. Others also believe we are on the verge of living and working on Mars.

Technology is a critical enabler of change, but it cannot happen without people. In today’s VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous), leadership requires new skill sets, mindsets, and above all, tremendous courage.

Whether you’re starting a new company, defining a new future for a long-standing organization, pivoting to a new business model, experimenting on the edge, encouraging your team to think and work differently, persuading your board to prioritize purpose AND profit, helping children find a problem they’re excited to solve, your ability to lead, influence, mobilize, and inspire is vital.

Today’s leadership models and frameworks are outdated and inadequate. Many were created over a hundred years ago by people like Frederick Winslow Taylor, at a time when the world was a lot slower, businesses were just experiencing the industrial revolution, and small family stores were exploding into large manufacturing hubs.

Just around the corner, there will be tremendous, never-before-experienced disruption and stress. Two hundred years from now people will look back and see that our current generation was the last that got to experience living freely without artificial intelligence playing a major role in our health, mobility, and intellect.

Leaders, teams, and organizations will have to be more creative, intuitive, collaborative, and supportive. Those that envision and lead the change will survive and live a purpose-centered life. Those that resist, avoid, or deny the change will be left behind, responding, and reacting to the change created by others.

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“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.”

― Søren Kierkegaard