Photo by Norbert von Niman on Unsplash

By Jim Funk and Lawrence Chong

This new age with its complex set of challenges will need leaders who know how to work with others to create new solutions. 

The thunderous blast of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy into the clear blue sky provided a powerful symbol of how we are truly at the dawn of a new age. It was a wonderful sight to behold and it should have given us hope—yet humanity is on edge at many levels: from the dimming prospects of a secure job, unnecessary trade wars and the rise of Artificial Intelligence and robots. These are unsettling times.

These are the moments when we should be able to count on men and women of integrity to lead and develop viable solutions. Yet in many situations, from politics to boardrooms, too many leaders still seem to operate from an old playbook, holding onto egos and becoming entrenched in their positions, resulting in gridlock that denies the possibility of innovative solutions. The challenges facing humanity have grown far more complex and massive in scale. And as the global economy evolves into something exceedingly more intelligent—called Industry 4.0 by the World Economic Forum—we need to rethink what it means to be a leader in this new age.

In the past, leaders were able to achieve results by competing for talent and resources. They adopted first-mover approaches to shape their advantage—essentially competitive-oriented moves. But these strategies are no longer sufficient as the rules of the market have changed dramatically, with disruption in every known sector upending traditional players. A private company recently launched the largest rocket into space—a prospect unthinkable a decade ago—while resources and innovation are still scarce in some other sectors and countries. Today, leaders must be prepared to think differently to seek smart solutions for a future that is already upon us: The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Organizations will only succeed in this newly connected age if their leaders are able to effectively collaborate and look at challenges from new perspectives.

What kind of leadership will be needed to address these challenges and pursue the opportunities which is rapidly reshaping so many aspects of human life? Of course, future leaders must be able to navigate a more complex world, compete successfully and produce results. But what more? Here’s what we think:

1) Purpose-Driven. Leaders must first realize they are here to serve the greater good; they need to respect the desire of people to do something exceptional every day. Leaders need to know how to engage and motivate others, how to provide meaning and purpose in work, and how to grow peoples’ talents and abilities.

2) Inside-Out. Leaders must first be willing to develop themselves from the inside out. They need to be open to increased self-awareness, and to seek the honest feedback that will help them realize their potential. They need to be humble and courageous enough to change what used to work in the past but will not work in the future.

3) Build Unity. Leaders must understand the paradox and power of “unity in diversity.” As people appreciate other cultures and disciplines, creativity and innovation grow exponentially. A leader’s ability to build unity and shape a common effort is what will help drive exceptional results. Bold men and women—even those in current leadership roles—who wish to shape transformational change and build a more united world must be well-prepared for this task. It requires development in four specific competency areas which we identify with the acronym HERO:

Heart and Spirit (purpose, values, character, intent)

Embracive Thinking (global knowledge, awareness of economic and cultural interconnectedness and creative approaches that see issues with new perspectives)

Relational Dynamics (personal and social engagement, awareness and emotional intelligence)

Operational Leadership (training and experience to lead and manage people and resources in challenging circumstances)

There is no such thing as a perfect leader—everyone is human. What seems to make the difference is when leaders are willing to learn and further develop themselves, they can discover the unrealized talent of both themselves and others. Men and women of courage who wish to transform the world must be able to transform themselves and bring people together with a common vision. This is the type of leadership urgently needed for the future economies. In order to address this need we have taken a ground-up approach to launch a new executive leadership development program in partnership with Sophia University Institute to shape a new generation of leaders.

This unique design provides an innovative learning experience for both individuals or teams that was developed over one year by a team of experts from the US, Europe and Asia with multidisciplinary backgrounds in leadership, business creativity and religious and cultural diversity. The program is designed not just as an academic course, but as an existential and experiential encounter. It could be described as a formation program for leaders seeking something more – a break from the usual grind – and a reflective approach that also offers highly practical content.

Conducted over five days in Tuscany, Italy, it invites leaders to clarify their motives and purpose, understand the impact of the past industrial revolution on society, social relations and economics, understand leadership issues and strategies from a multidisciplinary perspective, and learn how to benefit from diversity.

The program seeks to bring together a wide range of leaders in business, government, non-profit and religious institutions so as to forge a shared bond to shape a more inclusive and sustainable future economy, and offer solutions that can make their organizations even more successful in the new age.

This is our contribution to shaping a better world, and we invite you to join us. The challenges are many, but the opportunities are too. No one can solve these problems alone, but together the possibilities are infinite.

Jim Funk is the Global Head for Leadership Transformation at Consulus 

Lawrence Chong is the Co-founder and CEO at Consulus.

To contribute to shaping leaders who know how to unite, Consulus is pleased to introduce Global Leaders for Unity Executive Course for individual leadership development and Alchemy for leadership development as a team. These courses are conducted in partnership with Sophia University Institute, a unique academic institution dedicated to shaping a united world. Find out more about our complete solutions on LeadershipCORE here.