Over the next decade, today’s connected world will be explosively more connected. Anything that can be distributed will be distributed: workforces, organizations, supply webs, and more. The tired practices of centralized organizations will become brittle in a future where authority is radically decentralized. Rigid hierarchies will give way to liquid structures. Most leaders—and most organizations—aren’t ready for this future. Are you?
It’s too late to catch up, but it’s a great time to leapfrog. Noted futurist Bob Johansen goes beyond skills and competencies to propose five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This book shows how to (1) forecast likely futures so you can “look back” and make sure you’re prepared now for the changes to come, (2) use low-risk gaming spaces to work through your concerns about the future and hone your leadership skills, (3) lead shape-shifting organizations where you can’t just tell people what to do, (4) be a dynamic presence even when you’re not there in person, and (5) keep your personal energy high and transmit that energy throughout your organization.
This visionary book provides a vivid description of the ideal talent profile for future leaders. It is written for current, rising star, and aspiring leaders; talent scouts searching for leaders; and executive coaches seeking a fresh view of how leaders will need to prepare. To get ready for this future, we will all need new leadership literacies.
About the Author
Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. He has done forecasts for a wide range of corporations, including Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Disney, Intuit, Walmart, Syngenta, and United Rentals. He is the author or coauthor of ten books, including Get There Early, Leaders Make the Future, and The Reciprocity Advantage.
“Bob Johansen is the Rick Steves of travel to the future. He stimulates leapfrog thinking and provides a compass for scenario planning. The Salvation Army has been inspired by Bob’s perspectives to help us find new ways to deliver our message of hope.” —Bill Burke, Chair, National Advisory Board, The Salvation Army
“Cigna has emphasized Bob Johansen’s ten leadership skills from Leaders Make the Future as part of leadership development to date, and now The New Leadership Literacies will be a cornerstone of preparing and engaging Cigna’s leaders for disruption and dynamism.” —Karen Kocher, Chief Learning Officer, Cigna
“Electronic Arts’ insider game cheats for leveling up leaders for the future: (1) sidestep the beast called ‘Today,’ and go through the door marked ‘Future’; (2) shake hands with wizard Bob Johansen, who will grant you new leadership literacies; (3) share these protective literacies with members of your leadership clan; and (4) move together to slay the disruptive boss dragon that goes by the name VUCA.” —Andy Billings, Vice President, Profitable Creativity, and founder of LEAP (Learning, Engagement, and Performance), Electronic Arts
“Bob Johansen’s work is a must-read for leaders preparing for a future of extreme disruption and evolving organizational models. Even more, The New Leadership Literacies will immediately become a core component of the leadership curriculum at United Rentals.” —Craig A. Pintoff, Chief Administrative and Legal Officer, United Rentals, Inc.
“ITSMF is the largest development network for African American IT leaders. Diverse leadership will invite experimentation, organizational innovation, and growth. Bob Johansen gives us what we need to develop and nurture the next generation of diverse leaders.” —Robert D. Scott, Vice President and Dean, Global Institute for Leadership Development, Information Technology Senior Management Forum, and Director of Diversity Initiatives, University of Michigan College of Engineering
“Bob Johansen’s masterpiece is chock-full of wisdom, lovely stories, and uncommon common sense about how to survive and thrive the massive changes that will unfold during the next decade. His rare ability to think about the future in different and remarkably useful ways is evident in every chapter.” —Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and co-author of the bestselling Scaling Up Excellence
“Bob Johansen continues to provide a different perspective and greater awareness of the disruptions that are shaping organizations and placing new demands on our leaders. Always thought provoking, Bob makes us stop and consider whether we are doing enough to develop leaders to stay in tune with the ways business and the world around us are changing. He offers us an insightful reference point to evaluate the practices and approaches we use to develop leaders who will thrive in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.” —Laura Mattimore, Vice President, Global Talent, Procter & Gamble
“With The New Leadership Literacies, Bob continues to offer new ways of equipping leaders to think about and shape a daunting future with commonplace disruptions. More than being competent in traditional military skills, Army War College graduates must be fluent in the leadership literacies that Bob has discerned for a globally connected and distributed security environment.” —Charles D. Allen, Professor of Leadership, United States Army War College
“Nurses are pivotal in care delivery and amid this rapidly changing health-care landscape, nurses are experiencing the full force of the VUCA world. To ensure patient safety, nurses must lead from wherever they are—be it the bedside or the boardroom. Thanks, Bob, for once again providing insights and critical perspectives for me to incorporate in my practice and to share across the profession!” —Launette Woolforde, Vice President, Nursing Education and Professional Development, Northwell Health
“Like other literacies, The New Leadership Literacies can be taught, and the earlier, the better. Once again, Bob Johansen is our master teacher, opening doors to the new world of uncertainty and distributed expertise. He also reveals how its leaders will be adept at going inward and leading from a keener understanding of themselves and their relationships.” —Milton Chen, Senior Fellow, George Lucas Educational Foundation
“In just the first few pages, my pulse quickened. For leaders of the future everywhere, this is a vitally important book to prepare us all for a world where all can thrive.” —Chris Ernst, Global Head, Leadership and Organization Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and coauthor of Boundary Spanning Leadership
“Bob Johansen is out in front of us again. This book describes a future that is VUCA on steroids—a future for which leaders are ill equipped to lead. Look back from the future; it will reward clarity and punish certainty, voluntarily engage fear, and distribute authority in shape-shifting organizations. These leadership literacies describe a developmental trajectory for a leader that is far beyond the capacity of the ‘operating systems’ most of us are running. In this book, Bob gives fair warning and great developmental guidance for those of us who aspire to lead into the future.” —Bob Anderson, CEO, and Bill Adams, Chairman and chief Development Officer of The Leadership Circle and authors of Mastering Leadership
“This book will be an important point of reference for what we all need to take into account as we try to find our place in the perpetually changing new world, and it will be especially relevant to those who will try to lead us in that world.” —Edgar H. Schein, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management, and author of Humble Inquiry and Humble Consulting
“My job is to oversee the procurement of baseball talent for the San Francisco Giants. I have white hair, but that does not mean I am old school. Bob Johansen’s book provides clear literacies that will be necessary to discover and nurture the next championship talent to be our team leaders.” —John Barr, Vice President and Assistant General Manager, San Francisco Giants
“To understand the gift that is Bob Johansen and The New Leadership Literacies, imagine twenty top CEOs in a workshop sharing their volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous angst. Foresight yields to insight, which portends action. Hope is renewed. It is powerful and humbling. Years after Bob spoke to our roundtable, his concepts are still discussed at every meeting.” —Brenda C. Curiel, Managing Director, CCI, Inc.
“Once again, Bob Johansen introduces leaders to the future—this time by refocusing us on new leadership literacies that inspire innovation at the thinly structured edges of our organizations. I will be using this book in my Give.org work, and I urge others striving to produce social good to do so as well.” —H. Art Taylor, President and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance
“During the time I led leadership development at McDonald’s Corporation, Bob’s Leaders Make the Future was a mandatory read for our high potential leaders. Now, as executive director of FRED Leadership, I plan to use Bob and The New Leadership Literacies to further the thinking on this critical topic with top leadership/executive development programs.” —David Small, Executive Director, FRED Leadership
“Working with Bob for many years has been shockingly uncomfortable at times. His new book once again pushes me out of my comfort zone—but it helps me imagine what it will take to thrive in a future of extreme disruption.” —Carmen M. Allison, Vice President, Talent, Pottery Barn Brands and Global Talent Development, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
“In a time of fear and difference, Bob Johansen offers a framework for values-based leadership. This book offers thoughtful and practical literacies for leading rather than reacting. Our graduate students as well as our program partners in faith communities, social innovation, and values-based companies will learn ways to turn fear and uncertainty into vision and opportunity.” —David Vásquez-Levy, President, Pacific School of Religion
“Leaders Make the Future instantly woke me up and became the foundation on which I now lead human resources. Now, The New Leadership Literacies is the perfect deep dive into preparing to thrive in this increasingly uncertain world.” —Kathy Mandato, Vice President, Human Resources, Snap, Inc.
“I am claw-hammered by Bob Johansen’s ability to see around the next bend with clarity, wit, candor, and style. Bob is a master in making sense of what leaders will need to survive disruptive blasts from the future. We are aggressively using Bob’s new literacies for immersive executive development. Bob was the 2015 recipient of the Boston University EDRT Program Marion Gislason Award for Excellence in Leadership Development.” —Jack McCarthy, Director, Executive Development Roundtable, and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Questrom School of Business, Boston University
“The New Leadership Literacies is another powerful book from Bob Johansen! I will personally use it in my work at CCL to guide decisions about research we will undertake and how our solutions will develop leaders who are “future literate.” I can see this book becoming a dog-eared tool for both CCL staff and our clients alike. Bob was the 2016 recipient of the H. Smith Richardson Jr. Visiting Fellow award from CCL.” —Jennifer W. Martineau, Senior Vice President, Research, Evaluation, and Societal Advancement, Center for Creative Leadership
“Bob Johansen has learned from the VUCA world of the present and created powerful new leadership literacies for the future, which will compel individuals to act with a sense of urgency and conviction. Bob’s leadership literacies are a natural and welcomed complement to our programs, in which we immerse executives in the leadership lessons from West Point and the US Army.” —Karen Kuhla, Executive Director, Thayer Leader Development Group
“Everything is changing at once. Bob offers a way forward. He has been a reliable thinking partner as we have reimagined the business for an autonomous world. In my role with the Foresight Council, I will be using the ideas in this book to guide corporate foresight leaders as they help shape the future.” —Rick Holman, Director, Foresight Council, and past leader, GM Global Foresight Network
“Bob Johansen invites each generation to live on the edge of their competencies to read the future backward and grasp hold of the signs that beckon us forward. He invites us to transcend what we don’t know with honesty. In so doing, he knows we will create curious leaders and curious communities who will resist the urge to freak out and instead leapfrog into our new awaiting future. Though we all face a dilemma-ridden world, Johansen offers The New Leadership Literacies to collaboratively hack the outskirts of a hope that awaits us.” —C. Andrew Doyle, IX Episcopal Bishop, Diocese of Texas
“Bob’s work has been critical to developing our leaders to think in new ways and support an innovative culture. We are using The New Leadership Literacies to help develop visionary leadership.” —Leah Toney Podratz, Director, Organization Development, Cox Enterprises