What the Leaders of Tomorrow Need to Know Today

Lougheed Leadership Network

What will it mean to lead, in any capacity, in the next 35 years? We posed this question to participants of the first of three Leadership Program Network sessions at Banff Centre as we begin to explore and identify challenges, requirements and opportunities that will help shape the future of leadership and leadership development.

Think of someone who is 20 years old today, educated, setting out on a productive life who may find him or herself in various leadership roles over the next 30-odd years. What conditions will this person face and how might those conditions change over time? How will this leader know he/she is successful? What qualities/personal capacities will this leader need to develop? What would be the single biggest obstacle to this leader’s success?

Here’s a sampling of some responses:

“A 21st century leader must not accept compromise in the decision-making process, but rather champion balance by showcasing the subtle difference ‎between the two principals, advocating for innovation and asymmetricalism over cookie-cutter designs and so-called 'win-win' solutions.” 
Simon Jackson,
Speaker, writer, strategist

“A leader in the next 35 years will need the qualities and personal capacity of a big-budget horror movie director. They will need to tell a story that someone else has written for them, with someone else’s money, and ensure that the audience remains engaged while terrified and looking away. They will need to understand that the success of all horror is redemption and ensure they provide it before the credits roll.”  
Elena Arbus,
Manager, Creative Spaces, City of Melbourne

“Over the next 35 years, the tasks faced by leaders will change dramatically as new leadership tools, organizational challenges, and societal contexts emerge. Most of this change is impossible to predict with any certainty. There is no single toolkit that can prepare a leader for this journey today. But being mindful of the leadership journey may be a leader’s greatest asset and paradoxically the greatest obstacle to overcome.”
Chris Eagle 
Adjunct Professor, University of Calgary, 
Department of Community Health Services

“Young leaders must be as compassionate as they are smart, as service oriented as they are ambitious, and as purposeful as they are technically skilled. She must consume large volumes of technical, social, emotional and structureless information and begin to paint patterns where none previously existed.”  
Aleem Bharwani, 
Scientific Director, Office of Leadership Development, University of Calgary

“The single biggest obstacle to a 20-year-old (in 2015) person succeeding as a leader through to 2035 will be their ability to read, understand, and respond courageously to the signs of the profound societal and civilizational change that by 2025 is obvious. Therefore, along with their culture, they prepare themselves for and bet on a future that did not materialize. They are all set with their skates and hockey stick, standing on the four yard line.”
Ruben Nelson,
Social commentator and activist

“The emergence of what we are now labeling social innovation, shared value, collaborative action will take us forward for the next 15-20 years and the next evolution of sustainability. This means that a future leader has to have greater empathy and understanding. They will need to know how to break through social isolation that is emerging as we wrap ourselves in technology and help people really connect, listen and learn from one another."  
Cathy Glover,
Director, Community Investments, Suncor Energy Inc.