Leaders Make the Future – Ten New Leadership Skills For an Uncertain World by Bob Johansen

“Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World” by Bob Johansen is an interesting read for all those who wish to lead into the future. Johansen comes at leadership from the perspective of a Forecaster, something he has done for more than thirty years, and an over all premise that today’s businesses and organizations are operating in a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, often referred to as VUCA in the text.

As a forecaster, Johansen states that he studies the future to learn about leadership in the present. This book contains the ten emerging skills that Johansen feels will be crucial for leaders responsible for maneuvering their organizations through the next decade. He makes a convincing case as to why these skills are important. Additionally, he provides guidance with how the reader can incorporate the skills into their own leadership styles.

The ten skills include:

1. Maker Instinct focuses on how leaders need to draw out their maker instinct and apply it to their leadership. Johansen states that future leaders will need both a can-do and a can-make spirit.

2. Clarity is a must in confusing times and a leader must be able to create and communicate with clarity without being simplistic.

3. Dilemma Flipping is being able to succeed with challenges that cannot be solved and won’t go away.

4. Immersive Learning Ability focuses on immersing yourself in new physical and virtual worlds that may be uncomfortable to increase your learning.

5. Bio-Empathy is being able to learn from nature and use that wisdom to inform your decisions.

6. Constructive Depolarizing focuses on how a leader can constructively depolarize conflict to both calm and improve the situation.

7. Quiet Transparency is a skill by which a leader by being open but not self-promoting.

8. Rapid Prototyping deals with working through many scenarios during the process of development.

9. Smart Mob Organizing is a leadership skill of organizing people using a range of media.

10. Commons Creating within which both cooperation and competition may occur.

Each chapter has relevant examples to illustrate Johansen’s main points and concludes with a good chapter summary. The concluding chapter, Readying Yourself for the Future, starts with a great statement, “Leaders can make the future. Leaders can decide what kind of future they want to create and go for it.” I also like that the author admits that the ten skills he outlines in this text are challenging to master and there are other resources to assist you with them. You won’t learn everything from this book, but then no one single volume teaches everything. This book should be used as a catalyst. Johansen describes ten skills for future leaders, and it should get you thinking about the concepts he writes about and exploring ways to incorporate these into your leading.

The speed of change can be overwhelming, and things only continue to speed up each and every year. I agree with the author that the future will be loaded with opportunities and leaders must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities as they arise and be agile enough to sidestep the dangers. This book raises important skills that each leader should at least consider if not incorporate into their leading. It is a quick read and one I encourage any leader to not just read, but meditate on the described skills and seek ways to incorporate them into their businesses and organizations.

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