Research & Thought Leadership

How can you be future-ready when you don't know what the future looks like?

Naysan Firoozmand, Head of Global Executive Coaching at Hult EF

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Vision is a powerful tool for organizations to map the future of their business. But even with the best laid plans, the world continuously evolves around us in new and unexpected ways. With no guarantee of the future landscape, how does your organization and leadership prepare for the future? Is it possible to be truly prepared in the traditional sense? 

Expertise is prioritized in leaders. But human-centricity rules the future.

Traditionally, schools and universities have been great at producing specialists who excel in their chosen areas of study. As a result, many leaders have risen to a place of seniority due to expertise in a specific area. However, the landscape of leadership has evolved over time, and there's a growing realization that to survive and thrive in an uncertain future, leaders need a wider set of skills, with more human-centered abilities and the right mindset too.

Particularly, leaders today need to master skills like care, trust, and empathy – human-centric skills that are not regularly trained for or emphasized in traditional career paths. These qualities form an emotional intelligence that can help predict how businesses and markets will perform. Equally important is clear, concise, and transparent communication which helps in aligning the team towards common goals, especially in rapidly changing environments. This includes active listening, which is vital for understanding the different perspectives that will guide thoughtful change.

With the constant risk of changes being imposed upon us, it’s not enough to be adaptable and resilient to change; we also need to be able to adopt a mindset that actively seeks out the opportunities for change, innovation, and growth. Future-ready leaders should foster an environment where creative thinking and novel approaches are valued, and where taking calculated risks is seen as a necessary part of progress (Edmondson, 2023). They must be open to new ideas, willing to abandon old practices, and agile in their approach to problem-solving. They should be lifelong learners, constantly acquiring new skills and nurturing a culture of learning in their own organizations.

The reality is we don’t know what the future looks like, but the leaders of tomorrow need to be equipped with a blend of technical expertise and human skills. While traditional education has been successful in developing the former, it's time to put equal emphasis on nurturing human-first leadership qualities.

The master key for the future: Personal development for leaders

As future-readiness depends on human-centric skills that leaders may otherwise not train for or know to focus on, one-on-one sessions with a dedicated coach can deliver benefits for a leader’s wider organization. 

From a solutions perspective, coaching helps create the space and time to process what is going on around us, creating the mental capacity and resilience to turn complex thoughts and scenarios into useful insights. By encouraging leaders to think creatively and develop a growth mindset, they and their teams may learn to approach challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. 

As a leader, focusing on personal growth through coaching ensures that they, in turn, are equipped to nurture empathy and communication in their teams. As we have seen, this mindful approach helps navigate, foresee, and drive change in an increasingly complex and unpredictable business world.  

Ultimately, we cannot perfectly predict the future. For previous generations, general resilience was enough preparation for potential upcoming change, but today we experience constant renewal, with change forming the fabric of our day-to-day. Consequently, resilience must be supported by a change-embracing mindset, and even an ambition to drive change. In other words, if you want to visualize and be prepared for what the future looks like, aim to become the one who creates it.

Naysan Firoozmand

Head of Global Executive Coaching at Hult EF

Naysan is inspired and intrigued by human behavior and the influencing factors around why people do things the way they do them within their specific context. Naysan is a Chartered Business Psychologist and has, for the past 18 years, worked with clients around the world to design and deliver behavior change programs focused on leadership, management, and organizational development. He utilizes his knowledge and experience of different sectors, including finance, engineering, pharmaceuticals, energy, and technology, to highlight the similarities and differences between contexts that leaders find themselves in. ​

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Naysan Firoozmand

Naysan is inspired and intrigued by human behavior and the influencing factors around why people do things the way they do them within their specific context. Naysan is a Chartered Business Psychologist and has, for the past 18 years, worked with clients around the world to design and deliver behavior change programs focused on leadership, management, and organizational development. He utilizes his knowledge and experience of different sectors, including finance, engineering, pharmaceuticals, energy, and technology, to highlight the similarities and differences between contexts that leaders find themselves in. ​

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