I once had the pleasure of listening to futurist and author David Houle as he described the future ahead from his new book The Shift Age, which I understood to be the shifting social, cultural, political and economic planes around which we are all globally interconnected yet remain highly individualistic. Virtual organizations like TIAW use technology to facilitate these interconnections, and aggregate knowledge for sharing. While technology will clearly continue to play a significant role in the way forward, we as leaders must also help others on a personal level to find their way in the midst of unending and escalating change.
Companies who survive crises are those who balance financial performance with authenticity, honest communications in tough times and good, and integrating their efforts with others.
In other words, this global social revolution is best met by many personal revolutions. Mr. Houle mentioned a few specific things that I believe impact us as leaders.
In the workplace, we will be challenged to integrate and absorb multiple generations of workers with disparate values, life goals, and working styles. We must fully understand these generations in order to the build the collaborative workforce of the future. I believe that our understanding will come from a reshaping of our own leadership abilities and aptitudes. My favorite resources are author Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind) and Howard Gardner (Five Minds for the Future). We will have to master critical knowledge, integrate differing ideas into strategy, question effectively, appreciate differences, and be socially responsible. It’s a daunting task, but there is no alternative for success.
In the financial markets, we know that crises are not restricted to individual exchanges but globally integrated. It is our duty as leaders to be fiscally responsible wherever we have influence, including home, work, schools, boards, or public service. We must do our best to be economically savvy and financially astute, so that when we are able to use our voice or vote, we do so with integrity. We have great tools at our disposal: education and training, obtaining and using research, engaging in sustainable practices, and concentrating on the fiscally responsible growth of our own businesses. For those that may be worrying about diminishing public philanthropy, please remember that creating jobs is the premier form of philanthropy. If you own a business, keep your business financially sound and your employees secure. If you don’t, please assist your employer in maintaining your job security. Once those priorities are met, give wherever you can to benefit your community and it will return to you many times over.
In our world, we will be challenged to be collaborative global citizens that work together on sustainable energy policies and practices. In the sustainability realm, we can act effectively as individuals, workers, employers and advocates. We do what we can personally do to minimize our energy consumption and then we effect change wherever we have influence. My company recently became Florida’s first certified green screen/digital printing facility. Our first step towards certification was understanding how we are impacting energy consumption, commonly called a carbon footprint, and then determining how to reduce our consumption. Understanding comes from awareness followed by questioning, and then acting on the desire to be accountable for our energy use.
It was not a surprise when Mr.Houle arrived at the end of his “Shift Age” presentation by stating that he believes that this new age will be defined by consciousness, and though this consciousness flows out in a global way, it also will reflect our keen individuality. For example, people want to buy from companies that they think are socially responsible because those behaviors resonate with their personal values. I see growing numbers of people differentiate between doing (tasks, a job) and being about something. As a final example, think of the global awareness that has built up around sustainability, yet we as individuals are also embracing personal responsibility.
Do your part to navigate the coming age. Be a leader of hope, who recognizes and does the right thing by others. It matters.
Lisa Kaiser Hickey