By Nick Jankel

Professional Global Keynote Speaker, Transformation & Innovation Catalyst, Leadership Theorist & Practitioner, 6 x Dyslexic Author, 3 x TV Coach, Co-Creator of Bio-Transformation®

Leaders have never had to deal with so much change, at such speed and with so much complexity and intensity.

The result is constant overwhelm, with leaders struggling to do Business As Usual let alone spearhead external innovations and internal digital transformation to ensure they are match fit to survive and thrive in the Digital Age. Biologically it is impossible to be agile and adaptable when we are overwhelmed.

Few leaders have been taught or trained how to lead in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambitious (VUCA) world. VUCA, a term that comes from the US military’s take on leading conflict in the world today, demands a different set of skills and qualities than those needed to manage and lead in times of stability and stasis.

The fast and furious changes are driving a triple threat – and so triple opportunity – for every leader:

Firstly we are fully grappling with the implications of a Networked World in which people, places and products being connected in ways never been seen before (and that are hard to grasp). Tech like AI, the blockchain, the Internet of Things and additive manufacture will impact everything we do in unprecedented and unpredictable ways.

An entire house can, right now, be printed in 24 hours.

AI has been proven to be 20% better than trained lawyer at important analytical yet non-repetitive tasks.

Proteins can be programmed and genes can be edited.

Every leader needs to stop ignoring or repressing this reality and see how they are going to transform themselves and their organization to cope.

Secondly, seismic cultural changes are underway in the Disrupted World as younger people enter both the workforce and consumer marketplace. Born after the fall of the Berlin Wall, their have a generational demand for equality, empowerment and ethics whether as customers or employees.

Industrial Age motivational levers like power, promotion and profit often fall flat on their ears and fail. Many senior leaders I work with struggle to cope with leading these cohorts of people.

Finally, we are in an increasingly Stressed World, dealing with major global risks like climate change, pollution, inequality and clinical depression.

Every leader must reckon with their own stress, anxiety and sense of purpose and value… whilst ensuring their teams and employees find a way to stay healthy, creative and, ultimately, become part of the solution not the problem.

This emerging reality demands a new kind of leadership. I call it Transformative Leadership.

Every human being was born with the two brain networks they need to master transformative leadership. The first, the Cognitive Control Network, puts us in what I call Control and Protect Mode: Linear and logical, we follow best-practice using existing rules to improve things and get stuff done – but don’t have the creativity we need adapt as times change.

But we all have another brain network, the Default Mode Network, which allows us to enter Create and Connect Mode. Insightful, empathic and imaginative, we can collaboratively forge next-practice by solving new problems with fresh thinking and more relevant processes and behaviors.

Leaders who can consciously choose the Mode they are in can proactively transform constant changes in the external world into exponential value within organizations: whether through digital transformations or disruptive innovations.

With both Modes in a dynamic and actively-managed creative tension within us, we can choose which to use at any moment, we can then forge the future we want to see, not just be whipped around by the tides and cyclones of change.

Transformative leaders fearlessly leverage the brilliance of data, lean management and AI to reduce costs and improve results free from human foibles like cognitive biases and fatigue – whilst fully embracing our innate and unique human wisdom, creativity and intuition.

This is radical behavioral agility grounded in radical emotional stability.

This is The Future of Leadership.

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