The Power 8: New Leadership Skills of the Future
Leadership skills of the future fall into what some people might call “soft” leadership skills. But this is far from accurate. The skills everyone is searching for, in fact, fall into the category of what I call leadership power skills – some of the most important traits children can learn to survive in the future. These dynamic new leadership skills hold the power to create meaningful change in people’s lives and in society as well:
1) Envisioning, 2) Nurturing, 3) Connecting, 4) Creating, 5) Empowering, 6) Serving/caring
7) Building, and 8) Reconciling. I call these “The Power 8” -- the new leader skills of the future. These compelling leader qualities are far from soft traits in today’s leaders. These new skills are now becoming the strongest of leadership skills because they change people, circumstances, and societies.
Envisioning: Having a vision is the hallmark of a great leader. Leaders see the “big picture” of a goal or problem, usually before others see the opportunity. Leaders also see an unusually clear path to a solution. When a leader has a goal or idea they believe in, they are often able to share the excitement of this vision with others to bring them along on the adventure. Martin Luther King had a bold vision, and so did Rachel Carson. One of the most powerful visionaries today is Richard Branson. His vision has started many innovative companies. Those who can see into the future and see clear solutions to the everyday needs of people will be the most powerful leaders of the future.
Nurturing: According to researcher Virginia Held, human mothering shapes language and culture and forms human social personhood. Human motherhood also develops morality, consideration for others, and creates the platform from which the child begins to fly on his own – to become autonomous. Although it is women who have primarily engaged in this activity, fathers also engage in motherhood in contemporary families. Mothering is synonymous with nurturing and demonstrates the importance of the early years in developing a child’s optimism, self-esteem, spirit, and capacity for giving and receiving love. Mothering develops the attributes of caring, empathy, and generosity toward others as well as laughter, joy and friendship. I believe we are neglecting a critical attribute, toward empowering children to inhabit significant qualities of personhood, which is reaching out to others in love and peace and deeply caring about others, all of which are learned behavior.
Connecting: Connecting is about developing positive and strong relationships with peers, friends, parents and family members, acquaintances, and educators. Peter Drucker says that the greatest leader quality is being able to get along and enjoy other people. This translates into “connecting” with people. The future also belongs to interdisciplinary thinkers — those leaders who see connections between different sectors of society to solve problems, and diverse companies and people solving problems from diverse perspectives — educators working with corporations, corporations working with medicine, science working with parents and families, schools working with entrepreneurs. These connections are merely a few examples of new ways of thinking. Our next great search is believing in the importance of developing leadership talent in kids; the belief that human capital development, growing young leaders, is our next great frontier.
Creating: Creativity is an extraordinary gift and we all have access to this wonderful leadership quality. Creativity is about looking at things as they are, but imagining something new and different. It is seeing old patterns or old problems and coming up with new solutions. A creative person is an inventor of sorts who likes to think of new things, or new ways to do old things. They are out-of-the-box thinkers and doers. A creative person is free from conformity. They often ask, “What if? or Why not?” I call creative people “Re-People.” They re-new, re-align, re-shape, re-design, re-group, re-claim, re-establish, re-plenish, re-imagine, re-fresh, re-store, re-dedicate, re-furbish, and re-imagine!
Empowering: Leaders focus on empowering others to reach their goals. When you empower someone, you embolden them and enable their abilities to be expressed to influence others. You give someone the confidence to work toward their idea or goal. You inspire them to take action. Bill Gates once said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Empowering others can take a lot of effort, or only a little effort. Jack Davis, an eleven year old in Florida, learned that leftover foods in restaurants were always thrown away. Jack contacted his State Representative and asked if the food could be given to hungry people instead. Jack empowered others to solve this problem by merely asking a question. His State Representative listened and helped change the laws.
Serving: Nelson Mandela, a fighter for democracy in Africa, was considered a humble person, one who served his country with great dignity and grace. Who could imagine that after twenty-five years in jail, his ability to negotiate peace would be more powerful than ever? Mandela’s humbleness seems to have been nurtured in prison, and he remains just as humble today. According to Butler University, some of the qualities that they believe stand out in servant leaders are: the concern for others before self, ability to listen well, being able to empathize with others, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.
Building: “Building” is instrumental in a new leader’s life – building a program, building a team, building relationships, building a platform of new ideas. Building is necessary. By putting the pieces in place to build a larger whole, a cornerstone, it is a map to a better way. Human beings are always building, but the new building encompasses conscience, purpose, and meaning in a different way. It’s important to build the “architecture” of leadership. It takes one idea building on the idea of another to create growth and change. All of the builders bring their best to the building to create a stronger whole. Margery Stoneman Douglas, a newspaper reporter, wrote a book called River of Grass. This book, and her later work, helped make the Everglades a protected national forest. She initiated the building of a national movement to protect the national environment.
Reconciling: I believe reconciliation is the power skill of the future. “Re” in Latin means “to bring together.” So, reconciliation means “bringing people together to become friendly again.” How many people need to reconcile with parents, sons and daughters, friends and co-workers? Even in nation-building, leaders of the future must make a difference to bring diverse peoples and nations together to solve world issues, bring peace where there is violence, civility where there is chaos, and hope where there is hunger for a better world.