Leadership and Wisdom 

The view that a wise person is one that displays Future Consciousness has been described by Tom Lombardo, a psychologist, academic and futurist.  Wisdom he defines as:

Wisdom is the continually evolving understanding of and fascination with the big picture of life and what is important, ethical, and meaningful; it includes the desire and ability to apply this understanding to enhance the well-being of life, both for oneself and for others.

Future Consciousness he defines as:

Future Consciousness is part of our general awareness of time, our consciousness of past, present, and future.  It is the human capacity to have thoughts, feelings, and goals about the future.  It is the total integrative set of psychological abilities, processes, and experiences that humans use to understand and deal with the future.  Future consciousness covers everything in human psychology that pertains to the future.

Lombardo suggests that wise people have an overall sense of purpose and direction in life – a future focus – and this quality lines up with one of the central defining qualities of mental health.  In fact, two of the six most important qualities of mental health are (1) purpose and direction and (2) a sense of ongoing growth. Two other important qualities of mental health connect with self-responsibility and self efficacy: environmental mastery and control, a sense of autonomy or being able to make decisions.  Hence, at least four of the personality traits associated with mental health are also associated with wisdom and heightened future consciousness.

 Six most important qualities of mental health are:

  • Self-Efficacy and Self-Responsibility
  • Order, Discipline, and Direction (Including Purpose and Connectedness of Past, Present, and Future)
  • Courage, Faith, and Freedom (Including a Sense of Possibility and Adventure)
  • Wisdom and the Love of Thinking (Including Self-Awareness and Critical Thinking)
  • Reciprocity and Balance
  • Evolution and Transcendence (Including Optimism, the Pursuit of Flow, and an “Evolving Self”)

Given that Saturday is the ninth anniversary of attacks of ‘9/11’ is a good reason to reflect on what future we really desire.  The incredibly low level of wisdom and Future Consciousness demonstrated by the US Christian church Pastor Terry Jones, a so-called leader, is evidence of someone who clearly has mental health problems. He is demonstrating this by leading another 9/11 ‘attack’ - this time on Islam and the Koran. As Americans, and indeed many others, prepare to mark this anniversary, which still reverberates deeply in their national life, highlights the urgent need for us to slow-down, reflect, and engage in cooperatively developing a new story, a new narrative, that incorporates a new way of thinking - 'a future focus' - the global leadership challenge.

Reference: Tom Lombardo (2010) ‘Wisdom Facing Forward: What it means to have Heightened Future Consciousness’ The Futurist September-October 2010. USA.


Are coalitions the way of the future?

Tong Blair in an interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National this morning made reference to the changing scene in governments both in the UK and in Australia whereby both now govern in coalitions that were not of their choosing prior to the election.  This he referred to as the adaptive challenge facing the previous two party domination of Parliament.  Despite the reaction of Chris Pyne, Leader of Opposition Business, on the same program this morning that his coalition claimed the most votes, and that Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor made the wrong decision, when Parliament returns, the Coalition will again be occupying the opposition benches. As President Kennedy said "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."


Leadership lessons from the Federal election

There are so many leadership lessons which can be learnt from the recent Federal Election. Indeed I think many of Labor's problems can be put down to a failure of leadership. It all began when Kevin Rudd and the Labor Government turned their backs on their own Climate Change Agenda. Leadership is often about presenting tough choices to people but when it looked tough Kevin Rudd retreated.

Interestingly, the conservative side of politics has become better (but from a low base) at sticking to some of their principles and occasionally presenting tough choices. However, Tony Abbott's active encouragement of fear and hysteria about refugees is not an example of this courage!

I think two groups deserted Kevin Rudd over his Climate Change backdown. A large group of people voted Green because they support action on Climate Change. Another group of working people in Queensland and New South Wales who were perhaps not as committed to action on Climate Change but prepared to support Rudd's leadership on the matter, deserted him. In their case I think their main beef was his lack of integrity and leadership!

When Julia Gillard took over the PM's role we again saw failures of leadership, some of them around lack of judgement and ego. Was it pride and ego, or just poor judgement by Julia, not to offer the vanquished Kevin Rudd an immediate senior ministerial role? And if as most people believe Kevin Rudd and his staff are responsible for the extremely damaging leaking against Julia Gillard during the campaign, what does it say about his inability to set aside ego for larger leadership goals?


Julia Gillard’s adaptive challenge?

With just two weeks to the federal election has Julia Gillard realised in time what her adaptive challenge is?  Can she make up the ground lost by being what she now calls her authentic self? The media claim that until recently she was running a so-called safe ‘technical’ campaign which seems to have lost her a lot of following. 

If we compare Julia Gillard’s dilemma to BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward we may see some similarities. Ron Heifetz, in Boss Magazine 10th July 2010, suggested that why Hayward failed was he took a technical approach to an adaptive challenge. Heifetz gave this advice:

  1. There is no substitute for presence: CEO needs to be there to manage the panic, chaos and frustration, and to provide a frame.
  2. Communicate in a way that demonstrates that one understands the difficulty people are going through.
  3. Maintain poise. CEOs have to give people confidence that a situation can be continued, even if they aren’t so confident themselves.
  4. Drive the organisational response.
  5. Frame the adaptive challenge.  Regarding the BP situation Heifetz argues Hayward should have said: “We were over our heads and in deeper water than we should be and I call on my colleagues to slow down deep-ocean work until the proper technology is developed to prevent this happening in the future.” The world is enormously forgiving when people step up to the plate, but this has to happen straight away.  The longer you wait the deeper the hole you dig for yourself, Heifetz said.

We will soon see if Gillard has waited too long.


Business Case for Futures Thinking

The business case for futures methodologies is that the futures tools and methodologies not only are challenging conventional business assumptions but they are also challenging the worldviews, myths and metaphors that created these assumptions in the first place. This allows new thinking, whilst not necessarily an easy experience, to emerge which holds tremendous potential for forward thinking organisations to significantly increase their innovation, through dialogue to co-evolve a desired emerging future as it occurs in the here-and-now as the ‘new’ strategy.