Will future leaders have to expand their thinking?

leadership, management, future, innovation

Ever thought about what management will be like in the future? Former McKinsey director Stefan Heck and director Matt Rogers have. In this short video they discuss what leaders need to know in order to think in new ways about products, services, and technologies:

In the future leaders will need to be aware of things coming from completely new directions. They will have to notice neighbouring industries moving into their industry. Trends will increase to 20 percent per annum change as opposed to 2 – 3 percent at the moment.

Current management model out of date

Many experts are of the opinion that large companies today are run in ways that are seriously out-of-date. Their leadership style is still based on models from the late 19th century that were invented to manage semi-skilled labour doing the same thing over and over again. To do so is still important today. But it’s definitely not the main challenge facing today’s organisations, as outlined in the video.

Organisations need to become human

How about that? That’s definitely a change. Leadership in the future will need to be re-invented to make large companies much more adaptable, innovative and become places where people love to work. In other words, human, just like the people working there.

Do you agree that future leaders have to expand their thinking? That they will need to handle new trends and development that is at least ten times faster than today? Will leaders have to master everything from technology to human resources? Is today’s management model out of date? Will organisations have to become human in order to attract and keep skilled staff? How would you like management in the future to be? Maybe you have other ideas?

Video: McKinsey & Co. – Picture: W H

57 thoughts on “Will future leaders have to expand their thinking?

  1. As an outsider, it's easy for me to say, yes, one needs to think about all these different details. But I'm sure it is harder to implement.

    One of my sons is planning to go into engineering. I hope at some point someone trains him to look at the wide forest – currently, he and his friends are very good at looking at the veins in the leaves.
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    1. Agree with you, Leora. Expanded thinking will make leadership a much harder task. Future managers will need to analyze much more and know what to do when trends change at a much faster rate. Personally believe that a lot of people who are currently in management, above all in large companies, are not up to the task.

  2. I’ve seen first hand how challenging it is for leadership to manage in ever changing markets. Threats and opportunities alike start to take management by surprise and no one likes surprises at work. If you look at sectors that are strongly linked to technology then the need for change and dynamic interaction must grow exponentially. Great post.

  3. It’s so true! That thinking will have to expand and the challenge to do so will be great. The idea of understanding many different skill sets, having more flexibility than we thought possible, will weed out the weakest and hopefully produce some powerhouse thinkers.

    1. Not surprised we agree, Jacqueline. Doubt that the majority of people in management today will be able to handle management in the future. Let's face it many of them don't have the intellect it will take. If you are not a rennaissance person par excellence it will not be possible. And most people are not, even if they would like to think they are:-)

  4. Certainly there will be a faster rate of change and many will fall by the wayside.The best managers have always created change and accelerated it rather than coped with it but the bar will be raised considerably. The whole idea of a ‘management model’ is itself outmoded though business schools continue to turn out dysfunctional sausages based upon the idea that there is a ‘state of the art’ rather than a clear need to customize to each circumstance in real time.

    1. Paul, when it comes to what and how much you have to master to be in management, we ain't seen nothing yet. Only renaissance people par excellence will succeed. What you call best managers have not yet had to cope with the fast rate of change and all it will entail to succeed. Most of them will not have what it takes but be taken over by superman and superwoman:-)

  5. I absolutely agree that leaders need to be able to change and make changes in order to keep their companies on top in our rapidly changing world. The way young people think is entirely different than the way we boomers think, and we think differently than our parents did. The human mind is evolving, just as the business environment is.
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    1. Glad you agree, Doreen. But in the future it will be much faster and people in leadership positions will have to be renaissance people par excellence to succeed.

  6. Agree, Catarina. A good friend launched a management institute for undergraduate engineers at a major public university in the U.S. She got pushback initially from the old-fashioned leadership of the school. They didn't understand that engineers who go on to lead companies don't have the management skills. Lockheed Martin is funding the institute which had its first graduates this year. Undergraduate engineers are clamoring to get in because they understand that new skills are needed in an evolving world and workplace. Hopefully other academic institutions will adopt this model to train students in technical disciplines the "soft skills" necessary to manage effectively.
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    1. Good example, Jeannette. But it will not be enough to master just technology, they will need to master practically everything under the sun to be in management in the future.

  7. My son is a project manager for smoking cessation clinical trials at a major university. He has decided he needs to get an MBA to be able to understand and react better to the constantly changing management environment that cuts across industries and institutions. Mastering new concepts in management and learning how to be a nimble recognizer and responder to new trends is not just for business people anymore.

    1. That's a good start, Suzanne. But as you heard in the video there will be much more to it than that. In the future management will be carried out by renaissance people par excellence. Management today will be regarded as being on vacation in the future.:-)

  8. Become human- what a novel idea. I’ve been hearing from many organizations/industries that there is a “do more with less” mentality. They are forgetting the simple “thank-you” and not recognizing or appreciating people.

    1. Christina, technology is taking over many jobs. So it' s not a question of not appreciating people but, unfortunately it's cheaper to have the job done by technology than a human being. Managment will be carried out by renaissance people. Considering that few people belong to that category companies need to become human to keep them.

  9. I like some of the changes, especially the ones that recycle rather than throwing away and systems engineering to cut down on maintenance expense. The concept of collision of industries is interesting and I get that. But psycho physics? What is that? Another thing that I think is good is the idea of management becoming more human. So much more pleasant for the workers. Interesting concepts!

  10. Management is an ever-evolving undertaking. Whether it be people, products, or services, the efficiency and optimization of the business will always evolve. Therefore the style of the managers will have to always evolve.

      1. I will evolve in some ways but mostly I like to keep things simple and make decisions based on my gut. It has proven me well over the years.

        1. So far that's possible, Tim. But will it be in a future where you need to be superman in order to cope. Management is demanding today, but in the future what managers do at the moment will seem like vacation.

  11. It always seem that large companies such as Walmart and McDonalds etc…are the ones having trouble with employee retention and leadership. I guess once you go so high up, you really do lose touch with reality. But manager mastering everything down to human resources, you see that a lot in small businesses who can’t afford to hire a HR manager or Administrative Professional. And alot of these jobs are being cut. So is this really about leaders expanding their thinking or their wallets?

  12. Catarina, your posts always challenge my thinking to the utmost. What I’m wondering is, will there be enough capable managers to do the job in the future. I think now is the time when universities and colleges better start changing their curriculum to meet future needs.
    Lenie

    1. Glad I challenge your thinking, Lenie. Expanding our thinking is positive. Personally believe there will be less people in management in the future because technology will facilitate how we work. But management will be much more demanding than it is today.

  13. Hi Catarina,
    I think it is wise for future leaders to expand their thinking as much as possible. If technology keeps doubling every year, the exponential growth equates to being a million times more advanced in just 20 years. The numbers are mind boggling even further out.

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  14. Thanks for the post, Catarina. There's no question that leaders need to change, and to do so ever faster in today's world. Technology is breeding new business models, new competitors and new levels of information about, and connection with, customers, suppliers and staff alike. Successful leaders will need to be increasingly multi-disciplinary to understand the trends and where they are leading, and it will be less about management in the old sense and more about participative leadership.

  15. I agree with the premise presented. Managers will have to change how they manage or the business they manage will not survive. Things are changing at an exponential rate now as compared to any other time in history and managers need to be agile enough to respond appropriately.
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    1. Pat, I think Cheryl put is very well when she wrote that "things are changing at an exponential rate now as compared to any other time in history and managers have to be agile enouth to respond appropriately. And the speed of change will increase. None of us have yet coped with that kind of rapid change.

  16. Depending on the industry I think managers have always needed the ability to adapt quickly as their industry changes around them. It is definitely true that as time passes this is being tested more and more.
    Not only does a manager need to be able to think in new ways about their products, they also need to be able to keep up with the changing ways TO manage people. Many of us now work in groups spread out across the country, or further. Managers now need to be able to keep their team together and keep the 'human' aspect of their team when oftentimes they may never meet face to face. It will be interesting to see what further changes are to come!

  17. What they are describing is a 360 view of the product or service, it's desirability, use and the life span of the product or it's desirability . That is a very different skill set then what is deployed today. It is something needs to be incorporated into the education of our new developing leaders and workers to enable us to make the shift to the future of how we work and the products we produce. Just my thoughts. πŸ™‚
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  18. I believe that the most important job skill of the future is to be able to learn to adapt to new concepts, and that goes doubly so for leaders and managers!

  19. I completely agree with you. I have two smart kids that I worry will end up in organizations that don't see employees as humans or related to them that way. I hope we return to the more understanding ways of our past. I do find that people my age and a little younger are starting to revolt and just resigning for a more human lifestyle.

  20. Catarina- I have seen this happening already in a lot of businesses including the organisation I work with. Our leaders have had to expand their thinking and spent a lot of money in equipment and training in the hope that we will win more business in the future. Managing Change is hard but necessary.

  21. I love the idea that corporations have to become more human and would love to see it happen. On the other hand the availability of big data and reliance upon it seems to me to be moving some companies in the opposite direction.

    1. Let's see what happens, Ken. With employment slowly but surely disappearing companies may have to become more human in order to make people want to freelance for them.

  22. I agree with the gentlemen in the video. Managers need to view the big picture from where they came from to where they are going in the relationship with the technology that is available to speed up the process of transitioning. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Managers need to be one step ahead of the game. They need to understand the ever changing market and how their organisation fits in with this. Staying current is key.

  24. I do agree that leaders will have to change their ways and their thinking. I am constantly amazed at the very intelligent young people coming up – probably because they have more 'strategic thinking' opportunities that we had. Because of this, management is going to have to allow for the ideas these briliiant young people bring to the organization – if not, I'm sure they'll go elsewhere. It will be an interesting business world for sure – advanced technology and strategic thinking employees. It will be interesting to watch.

    1. True, Lenie. But a new line of thinking applies not only to the business world but all aspects of society. And if grown ups don't adapt they will be left behind. A bit like refugees who don't bother to learn the language in their new country. Their children, who do learn the language, are in charge of the family.

  25. I like the idea of organizations becoming more human, although I am not sure that is happening. I agree that new management styles are needed, but the demands of new leadership as outlined in the video may be very hard for someone to achieve, especially with having to stay on top of trends ten times faster (and presumably even faster than that in the future).

  26. I agree with all these comments in your post.
    With an ever changing world, a management model must also change. What might be good just a few months ago, will become obsolete tomorrow, if not already.
    I also think some of this information may fall on deaf ears. There are too many leaders who believe the old way is the only way to do things.

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