Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell. Leadership 2030: The Six Megatrends You Need to Understand to Lead Your Company into the Future. AMACOM: New York, 244 pp.
David C. Wigglesworth
This is a two part book. The first part addresses the six megatrends that they see the world is facing and the place of leadership in this future. This comprises the bulk of the book. The final shorter section is about leadership and contrasts altrocentric leadership with egocentric leadership as it relates to the theme of the book.
The authors, both from the Hay Group, created the Leadership 2030 Research Process of eight steps: determine methodology and conceptual framework; identify current megatrends; select the most impactful ones; survey business leaders; analyze each megatrend and its implications; analyze the effects of all megatrends in combination; draw conclusions on consequences for leaders; and identify how leaders should respond.
The six megatrends that they focus on are: globalization where economic power is moving from old economies to the rapid developing Asian markets; the environmental crisis with the threats of climate change and the scarcity of critical resources; individualism and value pluralism that create niche opportunities requiring greater agility and sensitivity; the digital era with its new transparency that can have impact on managements’ reputations; demographic change that includes a smaller workforce and a fight for talent as populations age; and technological convergence that forces companies to always be at least one step ahead.
Each megatrend is addressed in a chapter utilizing the eight steps of the research process. The chapters are insightful and fulfill the objectives of the authors with the conclusion of each chapter providing a framework for the future. However since the introduction starts with the quote from Mark Twain: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”, the reader is forewarned.
It is the final chapter of the book “Footnote, Not Headlines: The Altrocentric Leader” leadership for the future is explored in meaningful ways with depictions of applicable approaches to the changing world. And this section starts with this quote from Andy Warhol “They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
The chapter starts with five essential points that will govern the leadership of their megatrends. In brief these are: the era of the alpha-male leadership is over; leadership is a social practice; the leader of the future is altrocentric; altrocentric leaders are characterized by values and inner strength; and altrocentric leaders are adept at engaging stakeholders and at complex strategic thinking and execution.
These boil down to what are identified as the competencies of the altrocentric leader. The inner strengths of such leaders are ego-maturity, intellectual curiosity and emotional openness, and empathy. Their values reflect ethical standards and concerns for diversity. Their strategic business thinking must have contextual awareness and stakeholder recognition. These competencies also must provide for stakeholder interaction which involves what they call “meaning-making” where the emphasis is on making not just providing meaning i.e. “constructing meaning jointly with their internal stakeholders”. Altrocentric leaders also act to promote extensive collaboration across multiple boundaries, borders, disciplines, organizations, functions, and departments. In executing strategy they create engaged high-performing decision-making teams where they are first among equals and empower their teams by providing them with autonomy within a set of clear boundaries. But the authors add that the leader can be directive and what I would call autocratic when necessary.
The authors provide mini-case studies to demonstrate the application of these competencies.
In essence, what we have here is a re-wording of leadership traits/competencies that have been greatly effective over a long period of time. Linking these to a possible future that we all face is helpful and in this the book is of value.