The year is marching on. 66% of this year is gone. I hope you have made some significant progress on your goals for 2012. This month I want to share some thoughts on Leadership. We are all called upon to be leaders. Learning and practicing what it takes to be a good leader is a process, not a project. Here are some thoughts on Leadership.

A Leadership Map for the Future

Predictions for the future can be stimulating and challenging, especially when attempting to make strategic planning decisions. Our rapidly changing global environment presents problems never before encountered. No one knows what will be required of leaders in the future, but some speculation is worthy of our attention.

Experts have not always made accurate predictions:

  • In 1899 the U.S. Commissioner of patents, Charles Duell, declared, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

  • In 1905, President Grover Cleveland proclaimed, "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.
New industries are already well on their way to becoming established products and services for the future: micro-robotics, machine translations in real time, urban traffic systems, bio-mimetic materials, machines capable of emotions, inference and learning, and bioremediation for cleaning up the earth's environment are a few.

Each of these opportunities is by nature global. No single nation or region is likely to control all the technologies and skills required to turn them into reality. Any firm wishing to become a leader will have to collaborate with and learn from leading-edge customers, technology providers, and suppliers wherever they are located. (Hamel & Prahalad, Competing for the Future, 1994).

How Will Future Leaders Be Successful?

No matter what the product or services, the question remains: how will business be conducted in the future and what will be required for leaders to be effective?

To be sure, some leadership qualities will always be important: intelligence (emotional as well as cognitive), confidence, ability to articulate and inspire a vision, ability to motivate, unfaltering optimism, perseverance, resilience, and strategic decision making.

Recent company bankruptcies have also shown that leaders need to have moral and ethical values to make difficult and even unpopular decisions that are beneficial to stakeholders in the long term.

The Impact of Technology

Technological advances are speeding up communications and enabling rapid input from customers, suppliers, employees and all stakeholders, and are also creating new requirements for leaders.

While technological advances can save considerable time and money, here are some of the challenges that they create:

    1. Learning new technical skills: Executives must continually update their skills and remain open to learning how to work with new hardware and software systems. It is no longer sufficient to depend on technical specialists. What were considered basic computer skills in the past are no longer good enough. Leaders must know how to use new devices and programs to their best advantage.
    2. Decision-making on technical issues: Leaders must be able to make decisions about which technological advances have importance for their organizations, which purchases to make and where to allocate resources. Without this capacity to judge the value of technical advances, they risk spending money in the wrong places.
    3. Managing time and information: All persons, but especially leaders, will have to manage their time and information flow more efficiently, in order to be able to respond effectively and in a timely manner to new input from stakeholders. It does no good to have input available if the organization cannot respond in a timely fashion. Time is not the issue here, knowledge systems and management are.
    4. Leading virtually: Greater capacity for instant communications opens possibilities for working with suppliers in foreign countries at lower prices than can be achieved domestically. Leaders must be able to support and coordinate virtual work teams. Working virtually is not the same as managing in person, and requires new skills. Expect to see increased use of virtual conferencing technologies.
    5. Leading diverse cultures: Working with an expanded global environment brings challenges of communicating effectively with different cultures. Even more so than in the present, leaders will be required to have unique abilities to inspire and motivate others with different perspectives, values, cultures, and religions, as well as multi-generational age groups.
    6. People development: Leaders will have to be adept at bringing out the best in their people, who have more decision-making responsibility with customers and stakeholders in a rapid response environment. Leaders will be required to learn and use effective coaching skills.
Communicating across multi-cultural and multi-generational communities is becoming more important as a competency for leaders in the future, and a lot more of managing and leading will have to be done virtually.

Only a few of the prominent business schools have begun to teach new and future leaders how to manage diverse cultures in a virtual environment. Yet this is a clearly emerging competency.

Even smaller companies will become global and be required to work in a global environment. Expect to see an increase in diversity issues arise in leadership development programs. The use of executive coaches is expected to gain priority as a primary tool for developing diversity competencies for leaders.

Dissolving Boundaries

Effective leaders galvanize attention and get people moving forward together. However, organizations are increasingly complex. The past is no longer a map for how to do business in the future.

Leaders must understand the different legal, political, religious, gender and generational perspectives in different regions and countries. How do their products and services impact the people in the areas where they are doing business? Are employees and executives able to respond to differing needs in a flexible and rapid manner? Can leaders manage the tension that is inherent in multi-cultural environments?

For many organizations that are having difficulty managing cultural diversity within their own domestic offices, it will be even more challenging to meet global demands.

Alliances, partnerships, mergers, and outsourcing have all changed the way we do business. Leaders who are adept at building relationships and leveraging partnerships will have a competitive advantage for the future. The ability to guide diverse groups to consensus by focusing on common purpose and core values will be a highly prized competency.

It is important to remember that leadership is an emergent quality that is produced by the acts of many people in complex systems. The corporate culture must recognize and accept the need for leaders to get help. Leaders cannot walk on water or leap tall buildings, no matter how strong they appear to be. Executive coaches are necessary for the continuing development of leadership strengths, and will be even more so in the future.

Final Thoughts:

If you would like to discuss leadership in more detail or take a Leadership Assessment Survey, please give me a call or drop me an e-mail. Also please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends or colleagues who may have an interest in Leadership.

Thanks for your time and if you know of anyone who would like to subscribe to my newsletter, please ask them to visit coachpinney.com and sign up for a free subscription.

Coach Jerry


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Jerry Pinney

For the last twenty-two years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm. Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits. He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications, Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.

Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

Jerry Pinney & Associates
102 East 32nd Street
Chicago, IL,
phone: 312-842-4577,
fax: 312-842-4705

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