Finding Future Leaders: Personality Matters

Given the financial and societal impact of global business, there’s an urgent need to understand leadership personality.  If we fail to appreciate how leaders’ personalities influence strategic decisions, we risk selecting leaders who are incapable of setting an organization’s direction.

Think about it.  We are in the midst of great social, economic, scientific and political change.  Intelligent approaches count more than ever if we’re to build sustainable results in rapidly changing, complex markets.  The way leaders decide strategic plans is influenced by leaders’ personalities, priorities and worldview.

Global Challenges

Today’s leaders must excel at managing globalization’s systemic challenges.  There’s no such thing as economic or political insularity.  Every society’s problems affect the international community.  There’s no going back.  Business cannot return to the leadership that was effective decades ago.  If we’re to move forward, leaders must strive for economic success and the well-being of workers, customers and the environment.

When you look, you can see that across the globe there’s growing political unrest, terrorism, climate change, economic disparities among nations and health-care needs for an aging population.  If these issues aren’t sufficiently daunting, companies are dealing with continuous invention and experimentation.  There’s a technology surplus today; we have invented much more than practical applications require.

Leadership for the Future

Nobody can predict for sure what kind of leadership will be needed.  The next 20 years will see radical advances in nanotechnology, genomics and gene therapy, robotics, artificial intelligence, bioscience, bioengineered agriculture, environmental and energy research, and medicine.  Will our organizations’ leaders rise to meet the challenges?

From what I see in the organizations where I consult, we must prepare today’s leaders for an uncertain future.  For progress to occur in nondestructive ways, we need strong, visionary leaders who can unleash the power of emerging technologies and manage global diversity for the benefit of the common good.

But the way we’ve chosen leaders over the last 50 years may not serve us well in coming decades.  Because we were primarily a manufacturing society, strong leaders were those who excelled at processes that could be replicated, measured and improved.  Operations were key to success, and leaders tended to be obsessive, “by the book,” and conservative.  They preserved order and maintained company values.

In contrast, 75% of today’s employees provide services.  They’re knowledge workers who perform mental tasks instead of assembling product parts.  Companies need leaders who can engage the workforce, manage people, and inspire collaboration and innovation.

What’s happening in your organization?  Are potential leaders being assessed for past performance?  Are personality types being considered?

As always, I’d love to discuss your experiences with this. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.

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