“Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World”

One of my recent reads is the book Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World by Bob Johansen. Johansen presents the “VUCA” world, where leaders are presented with problems which have no obvious solutions, due to Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. The author proposes a “Foresight to Insight to Action Cycle” through positive “VUCA” forces of Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.

The book discusses how to be a more effective change agent in an ever more chaotic world. Johansen proposes new leadership skills for the future and focuses on characteristics of “makers.”

Johansen purports that makers like to get involved in group processes in order to see how ideas develop and unfold, and to understand the context for decision making. Makers engage in processes in order to understand what’s working and to determine opportunities for improvement. To me, a maker is someone who rolls up their sleeves and gets directly involved in identifying and addressing problems. This maker mindset also translates into leaders who connect and engage with others in a spirit and process of continual organizational improvement.

What have you read recently that has added to your leadership toolbox or has implications for developing future leaders?

3 thoughts on ““Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World”

  1. Dr. Engelkemeyer, last week I finished reading “The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out,” by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring. This was a very interesting reading as I believe the landscape of higher education has been changing dramatically as technology coupled with new business models is enabling customized education to more people at lower cost. I believe that those schools (and faculty staff) not prepared for this new trend will find it very disruptive. While I encourage the use of cell phones and tablets in my classes and use resources such as Wiffiti (https://wiffiti.com) to interact with students, conventional pedagogy tends not to be open to the idea. As for the authors, Christensen gave us a new lens to better recognize the threats and opportunities of “disruptive innovation” many years ago, and Eyring is a thought leader who has chronicled the details of a successful experiment in disruptive innovation in education at BYU-Idaho. Cheers, MG

    • Clay Christensen is always a fascinating read, and quite interesting to listen to in person if you ever get the opportunity. While he wrote about disruptive innovation in business several years ago, it is interesting to see him apply those concepts to education. I agree that we need to think about how we can apply the concept of “mass customization” to education, where students experience the content in ways that provide the most meaning and learning for them. We used to describe our higher ed environment as “chalk and talk.” What will be the phrase we use to describe today’s most effective teaching and learning methodologies?

      • Although I believe we cannot rely on plain chalk-and-talk anymore and have to keep pace with a generation raised on a multimedia diet, I also believe our role as teachers is still stronger than ever. Technology has aided students with learning differences, facilitated the teaching of abstract concepts, and enabled classes to be more interactive as students are eager to engage with technology. But on the flip side, technology has reduced the ability of students to think on their own and be creative. I’d venture to say, the new phrase could be “enchant and tell.” More than ever before, as teachers, we need to kindle a spark in our students, first and foremost, notice them as individuals, believe in their abilities and genuinely care about their charges. In the end, it really does not matter whether copious handouts or sleek technology we use if we sacrifice the quality of teaching, and the ability to connect with the students.

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