I grew up in the seventies in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the skies are always blue. As a kid, I was fascinated by two things: surfing and computers. I often sat on the beach staring at the ocean and fantasizing about the future, imagining what the world would look like 50 or 100 years later. Today, about 50 years later, we find ourselves at a crucible moment in human history in which leadership will define whether we can meet critical economic, social, political, and environmental challenges. But we seem to be short of true global leaders. 

Last August, I joined 600 other young global leaders from over 100 countries to take part in the first-ever virtual Young Global Leaders Annual Summit, organized by the World Economic Forum (a sort of mini Davos). The theme of the summit was “Resetting our Future,” coined by Klaus Schwab, who is the founder of the World Economic Forum and the Young Global Leaders community. We discussed strategies to create a more inclusive and sustainable future that contributes to the 2030 agenda and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

For the past few years I, along with members of the Young Global Leaders community, have been conducting an open, crowdsourced research project titled WORLD 50.0. While we know that no person can predict the future, individuals can see snippets. Our aim was to collect many of these snippets and piece them together to answer the question: How will the world look in the next 50 years? 

Using a variety of social media tools, we invited selected global leaders, including artists, academics, and university students of all ages, to share their glimpse of the future and asked them what they thought about the future of leadership. You will be happy to learn that the majority of respondents were cautiously optimistic about the future. A rapidly changing future will call for a new type of leadership to emerge. I will summarize the most interesting ideas about leadership from the survey. Current leadership styles typically: 

  • Try to figure out how to transform top-down hierarchical organizations and answer the question of how to lead in periods of change (like right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic) 
  • Rely on best practices and the latest research in cognitive and social sciences to figure out how to influence and persuade others
  • Long for the new but are raised in, educated in, and used to the old world

The leadership styles likely to emerge in the future will:

  • Rely on neuroscience to integrate mindfulness strategies, enhancing performance and resilience 
  • Be more aware of methods of manipulation, ensuring that responsible leaders remain ethical and use their talents for good 
  • Try to transition towards flat organic network organizations based on connected autonomy, improving the ability to scale

So, you might wish to know how best to prepare and thrive in the future. Here is some privileged advice from our survey respondents:

  • Follow your passion — hustle, hustle 
  • Exercise compassion and resilience and adapt 
  • Spread and scale stuff 
  • Do new things every day 
  • Practice mindfulness, presence, and being kind

The aim of the WORLD 50.0 project is to build our future together faster — a better future that we want our children and their children to inherit. You can learn more about the project from my TEDx talk

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This article originally appeared in ISM's 2020 Annual Newsletter.

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