More than ever, we need leaders who have the courage to make a difference for people for both the environment we work in and the one we breathe in. Executives need to think about management in a new way. Good corporate governance is increasingly, and the executives of the future must be able to navigate this. Changes in the geopolitical situation, climate crisis, Covid-19 and digitization all influence the way Executives should lead in the future. What are the most important traits and qualities of a future Executive? How does this global dynamic influence the future role of executives? This article is inspired by the conference ‘Board Briefing 2022’, held by Valcon and Ingvardsen Partners Executive Search and the conference ‘Executives of the Future’, held by Astrid Haug and Julie K. Strange, who together have published the book “Unmute your digital leadership”.
The geopolitical situation is pushing senior leaders to consider a presence in both Russia and China. To withdraw from countries that challenge the pace, destroy the climate, and oppress minorities, or stay. But trade has for years been a good tone and the way to peace in the world. It may continue to be the path to peace, and now also a solution to the climate crisis. Executive management will be about a regenerative approach to business management. An approach where companies produce resources instead of consuming resources. After a Covid crisis, executives have had to admit that the world is interconnected, and that actions in one part of the world can have far faster consequences for companies in other parts of the world. Not least, Covid-19 has taught us that significant digitization can release completely new forces and not break down value-creating hierarchies.
- Executives must be able to look around corners
According to Kristian Jensen, CEO of Green Power Denmark, the executives of the future must have an even greater vision than before. The decisions of the future are made outside Europe, where the democratic world order does not necessarily have a lot of support. Information about what is happening in Asia, Africa and South America will have an impact on business decisions made in Denmark.To a greater extent, executives of the future must seek out other angles and listen to those who stand in a different place. Executives simply need diversity to be able to “look around corners”. The top leader’s ability to seek out those who can see and understand other angles is central to being able to succeed as a top leader. In the future, the executive room and the board room will also have much more diversity.
- Executives must anticipate crises
Crises are the new normal. The financial crisis, Covid-19, negative interest rates, the war in Ukraine, supply crisis, energy crisis, inflation, too little qualified labour, lack of water, drought, etc. The crises have multiplied and worsened. Crises typically last at least 6-12 months and as an executive you don’t have to wait for help from politicians. Executives must look far into the future and ensure that analyses and scenarios are made. Executives must be able to see which crises offer new opportunities. Top leaders who can find these opportunities will have far greater market value.
- Executives of the future must be able to handle crises
The executives of the future must be able to handle crises and be aware of agendas that fill the company’s environment. The executives must be in sync with the world around them. A specific area where executives must be in sync with the world around them is climate and green transition. Some choose green hushing, so they don’t get into difficulty, while others risk greenwashing and thus shitstorms. Good climate communication is important. You must not just call yourself green, there must be action and data behind it. It is almost impossible to prove that you ARE sustainable. But you can communicate the vision, even if you are not on target – 100% circular and 0% waste by 2030.
- Executives must cultivate new technologies and cultivate the ecosystem
Executives must support entrepreneurship as well as agile working methods. Companies die if they lose the ability to innovate and develop business. The skilled executives must create a culture where sustainable solutions can be scaled. There must be room for a culture of hustling, so the sales people have room for business. There must be hackers who build ingenious solutions and hipsters who are story tellers and create a movement around the product. Executives must be able to rethink processes and structures. Executives of the future must also be on the lookout for regenerative technologies that can support circularity and thus contribute to a global sustainable ecosystem. We cannot think of solutions that are only used in the western world if population growth in Africa or Asia alone will accelerate the global climate crisis.
- Executives of the future must make it attractive to show up at the office
As an executive, you don’t know what’s best for everyone. You must rely on your executives to have a sense of what employees come to the office for. How the office is designed so that it supports collaboration and innovation. The employees’ increased motivation due to increased autonomy must not overshadow the fact that the level of competence can slowly decrease when working virtually. Drifting out of the community also becomes, at some point, a danger that productivity falls. Hybrid work is part of the solution, but not on its own. Executives must understand that employees demand to go to work with purpose and that this is a significant element in attracting and retaining them. The employees want the community, where you help across the company, but also where the company’s product contributes to a better world.
- Executives must challenge the way we work
The model of going to work is more than 200 years old. Work and management will undergo changes. The metaverse is a reality. Future work will take place in the metaverse. The digital world becomes as real as what happens in the physical world. A top leader must be able to create companionship in both worlds. We are currently experiencing two transformative megatrends: climate and digitalization. It also leads to new norms for what is acceptable behavior for the executives. You don’t have to fly to an international meeting if you could have done the meeting online. This behaviour is no longer acceptable. There will be a showdown with the “Colgate calendar” – no gaps. Your calendar must have holes. You should not have back-to-back meetings in your calendar. It’s not cool anymore. It’s not good for the brain. The body needs exercise, the brain needs breaks and speed bumps. Remember to create space to get into flow, so that you reduce stress in your company. In the future we will not talk about work and working hours, now we will talk about life. In the future, we will not talk about employees, but about people. So, you must rethink your language. As a leader, you are responsible for people and their lives. It is not only during working hours that we develop employees.We may also need to rethink the role of employer. Who are we an employer for? What should we take responsibility for? Should we design other cool communities? Will competitiveness support the good working life to a greater extent?
- Executives of the future will have completely different questions from their organization
- How do you work to make the company CO2 negative?
- How do you want to increase equality in the organization?
- How do you ensure psychological security in the company?
- How does our company support peace in the world?
- What are you doing to ensure that we as a company contribute to all 17 global goals?