We are on the precipice of a needed shift in leadership that will redirect the course of our future.
In the information age, a “good leader” was successful if they had the capacity to motivate a team with a compelling vision, mission and strategy. The operational time frames were years instead of days or months, allowing leaders to generate capital, organize teams and leverage incremental knowledge to succeed and compete.
The coming exponential age will see things speed up beyond our ability to understand. Specialized (and then generalized) artificial intelligence will outperform humans at most of our current daily tasks. This will lead to frequent black swan events, deca and centa-unicorn companies popping up and disappearing, as well as spontaneous movements arising and falling. All this will appear so fast that it will be impossible to predict, let alone react to. Disruption will be the new norm, and the winners will be exponential teams that thrive on disrupting even themselves in their drive for creative expression.
Leading in the Exponential Age
Successful information age strategies will fall short in the coming age of exponential change. Technological change is driving cultural, geo-political and economic changes at an accelerating pace that will be impossible to keep up with. Leadership is beginning to look like a rodeo— whoever rides the bull the longest today wins, only to be replaced by another rider tomorrow.
Smart leaders are now shifting the burden of leading from themselves to the team. They support the team with a bold vision backed by technological, resource and developmental opportunities to give the vision a fair shot at success. Then, they literally hold on for dear life. The most valuable leadership skills will include creativity, intuitive action, compassion, and a global service mindset. And the primary leadership role in this new age will be to develop the creative and “fast-twitch iteration” skills of the team. To do this, leaders must ensure the team is risk tolerant and uninhibited by structural, bureaucratic roadblocks.
So, how does one train for this scenario? Mindset training can facilitate this major shift from horizontal to vertical leadership development. The mindset of linear “plan-do-learn” incremental thinking needs to be replaced with fast, creative, and intuitive thinking. Of course, this is easier said than done after a lifetime of conditioning.
Fast-twitch iteration training is more than a system. It’s a mindset developed through a number of practices new to business leaders. The training is integrative because it focuses on the whole person, rather than the dis-integrative, skills-centric training of the information age. Integrated leadership development propels leaders toward optimal performance, deep connection and clarity of purpose. These character traits of “whole-mind” thinking are those described above as necessary for leading in the exponential age: creativity, intuition, connection and service.
Integrated Leadership Development
Integrated leadership development combines the traditional training of strategy and tactics (IQ) with emotional intelligence (EQ), agility and adaptability (AQ), and spiritual intelligence (SQ). The training of these multiple intelligences simultaneously leads to a paradigm shift in a leader’s perception, intention, and attention.
- Perception is how you will perceive your life and the world around you – how much information your conscious mind can take in, and how well you make sense of it.
- Intention is the willful act of creating powerful distinctions from what you perceive – so that you understand why taking one action over another will lead to more impact.
- Attention, when backed by expanded perception and clarity of intention, is a commitment to where you focus your time and energy. We know that attention is easily co-opted by tricksters, consumption, digital distraction, and negative drama. It requires great perception and strong intention to direct attention away from things that do not support your mission, and toward things that do.
When these three aspects of the mind are developed fully, a leader can operate with the unique skills of a meditation guru, a martial arts master, a sports psychologist and creative genius combined. This enables them to show up authentically and creatively for their team, and to support them in their own vertical, integrative development. The net result is that the humans behind the machine remain in control – they stay on the bull, and are not disrupted by their very creations.