I often think about the time Bill Gates changed the world. A computer on every desk in every home was Microsoft’s early mission. Is that even possible? It sounded crazy back in 1994.
It was a bold, ambitious and life-changing goal. Microsoft envisioned an environment that didn’t exist then and resembled somewhat of an impressionistic painting that was tangible enough to help them realise their vision.
They didn’t translate that vision into a winning strategy by building computers; they achieved it by scaling Satya Nadella’s belief that leaders don’t just lead people and teams; they develop people to become leaders themselves. This led to Microsoft employees being willing to trust, and the company went on to change the world for each and every one of us forever.
Microsoft did indeed build computers for every desk in every home.
This is one of the most famous stories of envisioning, innovating and mobilising the world, and is a wonderful example of two people showing how to lead the future.
‘I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.’ – Ralph Nader
The fourth pillar represents innovation. This is where leaders envision the future, foresee trends and changes in the world, innovate by embracing technology, and mobilise large numbers of people.
Leading the future has become one of the most important leadership pillars to organisations and leaders. It’s about being agile enough to move from reacting to actively making decisions and action those with a long-term view.
It reminds me of how families in Australia plan their children’s future from the day they are born, often enrolling their children in school when they are still very young. The school system is very competitive, and those who want their children to attend their public school of choice need to live in a certain catchment area. Private schools are expensive and often difficult to get into, so early planning is necessary.
What these parents do is envisage their children’s future; specifically, the opportunities they want their children to have. They consider future trends like what the jobs of the future will look like and therefore what skills will be necessary. The future of their children, which will impact their own lives one day, is extremely important to these parents, so they move heaven and earth to future-proof their children’s lives.
Leading the future is not so dissimilar. It’s about taking a long-term view and envisaging the future despite uncertainty and disruptions. People who lead the future don’t just envisage the future for themselves or their own organisation, but also envisage what the industry, community or world will look like. People who do this well are hyper-aware of the 5 global megatrends, how they impact the present, and will shape the future. I shared the 5 megatrends in this blog.
In my book ‘LEAD THE FUTURE’, I dive into the skills that are vital to leading the future:
- Embrace Technology
- Vision & Foresight
I share stories, practical steps on how to become a tech-savvy leader, and my 6 key strategy framework on how to mobilise people.
You can order my book here.
If you are curious about how to bring some of our work around leading the future skillsets into your organisation, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.