One of the most important tasks of the CEO and the board of directors in an organization is to pick the next CEO, the leader of the future. However, what kind of future leader should they choose?
Most companies might already have a list of characteristics that they associate with a great leader. However, with shifting market needs, technological advancements, and other changes in the way we do business, organizations need to prioritize a new set of skills and qualities when it comes to finding their next CEO.
Sticking with the same list of characteristics a decade ago (or more) might limit the organization’s view of the world and cause them to miss out on new opportunities — causing them to lose competitive advantage.
So, what kind of future leader should they be looking for?
Below are 5 important characteristics that leaders should pay attention to when choosing a future leader for their organization that can help the company thrive.
1. Global Mindset
Globalization is a trend that will have a major impact on the leaders of the future. In the past, even major companies could focus on their own country or, at most, their own region. Those days are almost over.
Future leaders will most likely need to spend time in multiple countries to better understand how multi-country trade could help their organizations gain a competitive advantage.
2. Appreciating Cultural Diversity
Motivational strategies that are effective in one culture may actually be offensive in another culture. The same public recognition that could be a source of pride to a salesperson in the USA could be a source of embarrassment to a scientist in the UK.
Empathetic leaders who can effectively understand, appreciate, and motivate colleagues from different cultural backgrounds will become an increasingly valued resource in the future.
3. Demonstrating Technological Savviness
High-potential leaders from around the world were consistent in expressing the view that being tech-savvy will be a key competency for the global leader of the future. One trend on this issue was clear—the younger the participant, the greater their emphasis in the importance of being tech-savvy.
4. Building partnerships
Building partnerships and alliances of all kinds were viewed as far more important for the future than in the past. Many organizations that seldom formed alliances in the past are regularly forming alliances today. This trend will be even more important for future leadership.
Reengineering, restructuring, and downsizing are leading to a world where outsourcing of all but core activities may become the norm. The ability to negotiate complex alliances and manage complex networks of relationships are becoming increasingly important.
The changing role of customers, suppliers, and partners has deep implications for leaders. In the past, it was clear who your “friends” were and who your “enemies” were. However, roles are becoming more blurred. In fields as diverse as energy, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals, the same organization may be a customer, supplier, partner, or competitor.
5. Sharing Leadership
In a world where leading across a fluid network may become more important than leading from above a fixed hierarchy, being able to effectively share leadership is not an option. In an alliance structure, telling partners what to do may quickly lead to having no partners. All parties will have to be able to collaborate to achieve the common good.
Not only did the participants believe that the leader of the future would be different than the leader of the past, they also believed that the employee of the future would be different.
Many of the future leaders saw that the management of knowledge workers was going to be a key factor in their success. Peter Drucker has noted that knowledge workers are people who know more about what they are doing than their managers do. In dealing with knowledge workers, old models of leadership will not work.