The Future of Leadership and Management
We are going through a major transition as a civilization. This is just the latest in a long series of transitions we have experienced. First, we were a nomadic society. When we settled, we became an agricultural society, then on to an industrial society. Now, we are in the information society, and we are moving from an information society to something new; let us call it the human replacement or artificial intelligence society.
What happened during these transitions?
In the nomadic and industrial societies, strength was important. On a macro level, it was claimed that the amount of land or physical resources held by a country determined the wealth of that nation. Power, material assets, and muscle played the principal role in success.
When civilization moved from agriculture to industry with the production line system, the brain came into play and the muscles lost some of their importance. As we moved to the information society, the brain became the main factor for success and the muscles took the backseat. The largest hotel in the world does not own any hotels. It has information. I refer to Airbnb. The largest taxi company has no taxis—only information. Here I refer to Uber and Lyft. What is the strength of Amazon? Of Facebook? Information. Brain. Those who did not make the transition from muscle to brain suffered. It took IBM a long time to move from the hardware business, muscle, to the software business, the brain.
In the new society, robotics will replace the muscles and artificial intelligence will replace the brain. What is next then? I suggest that what will emerge next is the heart.
Companies will succeed if they engage the heart. That will be their competitive advantage over companies with only artificial intelligence. Neither robots nor artificial intelligence can replace the heart. And what does it mean to engage the heart? How much do you love your clients, how well do you serve them, how much do you truly care about them? Do you really take care of your workers, even your suppliers? And what about your community?
A restaurant that I like has a big sign on the wall that says, “We will not feed you food that we would not give our children.” Well, if you love me as much as you love your children, I am your client for life.
The future of leadership is the one that uses the heart in addition to the brain. In the future, leadership should start feeling for clients, start feeling for workers. Quality of service from the heart, not calculated just for return on investment, will become of paramount importance.
How can this be done?
When we think, we don’t necessarily feel. We just think. When we are in our hearts, we feel. If you want to better serve your clients, workers, and suppliers, leadership must not only think about them but feel for them. This does not mean we stop thinking altogether. The secret is not to engage the heart and the brain at the same time. Thinking suppresses feeling and when you feel, how can you think at the same time? Thoughts cloud your feelings. The sequence I recommend is first, feel. Once you make a judgment based on your feelings, start thinking: What does logic tell you? What is the cost/value relationship? You are, in a way, challenging your feelings, which is totally legitimate and should be done. When you are finished thinking and have come to conclusions, go back to your feelings and confirm if you still feel good about your conclusions.
The brain focuses on what is and what should be. The heart focuses on what you want. So start with what you want, then challenge what you want by asking if you should want it and if it is compatible with reality, with what is. If it passes the test of reality, go back to the beginning: do you still want it?
When your thoughts are aligned with your feelings, you have made a decision you can count on.
The changes from muscle to brain to heart impact how we lead, how we serve, and how we educate. They also have repercussions on which of the sexes will lead in the future.
We are moving from a masculine world that relies on power to succeed to a feminine world which relies on feelings to succeed and the change is in more ways than one. The way to which I am referring now is leadership. We are moving and will be moving toward a feminine, feeling leadership.
The trend toward feminine energy has already begun as some of the largest corporations in the world have women at the helm. This trend will only continue to get stronger and stronger.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Founder of Adizes Institute Worldwide