In many ways, I am sure society is well aware of certain leadership principles that have stood the test of time in business environments.
Personality traits such as integrity, honesty, and responsibility immediately come to mind; however, in a disruptive world, there are more that, many do not realize, are vital to professional success to find certainty.
In today’s world of technology-driven transformation, leaders must embrace a new leadership principle if they want their organizations to have continued relevance. Now that the world has experienced a complete economic shutdown due to COVID-19, a physical disruption seemingly out of nowhere, leaders must not forget that the aforementioned technology-driven disruption will only accelerate with businesses finding every way to digitize and adapt to this post-coronavirus new normal.
In the past, leaders have focused on agility—being able to change quickly, based on external circumstances as change from the outside-in has been coming at an ever-increasing speed. Many of these types of changes are driven by technology because our customers are influenced by technology and, therefore, are changing the way they interact with us, such as an increase in transparency, thanks to social media, where they can view customer complaints.
All of these changes force agility, causing leaders to react, crisis manage, and put out fires on a daily basis. But now, we add the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with ever-accelerating technological change, and it becomes instantaneously clear that agility only leaves you in the dust.
Being that relying solely on agility is no longer an option, today’s leaders need to become Anticipatory Leaders.
Before fully embracing an anticipatory mindset, you must first unlock the visibility of the future. Ask yourself, “In these times of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what am I certain about?” We all deal with two types of change routinely, and because of their rhetoric, both are fully predictable.
The first is cyclical change. There are over three hundred known cycles that recur and allow you to anticipate the future. For example, the stock market took a tumble at the start of the pandemic, though, despite that daunting drop, it will always ebb and flow. This and other cyclical changes made pertinent by the pandemic and other disruptions, such as the real estate market, are in many ways easier to deal with, provided you know historically how long the cycles will last.
Alternatively, linear change happens only once. Some see the global pandemic as being a linear change, where instead of going back to normal, we will now face a new normal. While we will eventually have a vaccine, consumers and businesses will not move on from COVID-19 as though it never happened, so it is important to note how this will affect your organization long-term, allowing you to anticipate what is to come.
Other, more traditional, examples of linear change include globalization due to virtualization, the acceleration of computer processing speed, and an increase in the world’s population. Linear changes, even small ones, can have devastating effects on a business.
Next, identify the Hard Trends—the trends that will happen—and ask yourself, “What are the disruptions on the horizon?” How we do our supply chains, purchasing, logistics, and many more functions are being transformed by technologies like the cloud and virtualization. It’s creating disruption and opportunity simultaneously. You can either wait and see, until the disruption brings you down, or you can be proactive and take positive action based on future known events.
Many of the most hard-hit individuals by the pandemic are those that work in the physical entertainment industry. While you cannot necessarily give fans the same experience they would receive at an in-person concert, the Hard Trend is that they are missing seeing their favorite singers perform live more than ever and will never tire of concerts. One way to leverage exponential technological change, coupled with this pandemic disruption, is by having the singers perform from studios, selling affordable tickets to livestream shows that fans around the world can enjoy from their homes, with the potential for increased profits like never before.
Finally, look outside your industry for the solutions you need. You are probably reading a lot of information every day about the industry you are completely immersed in, trying to prepare for what is to come of it, post-pandemic. However, this total immersion may cloud what is going on outside your industry. Be sure to look outside your industry and see where others have been innovating. Find out what changes they’ve made, technologies they’ve developed or adapted, and then modify those to your situation, as a way to proactively and creatively approach the disruptions you know are coming.
There’s no competitive advantage in being just like everyone else, and now, defending the status quo will only lead to disaster in many cases. This is why being anticipatory is so important. What disruptive shift is about to happen, and how can you use it to your advantage? Instead of getting stopped by things you don’t know, it’s time to anticipate what’s to come to get ahead of the disruption.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.