Guest post by Bill Jensen
The next five years are likely to be the most crucial in your entire career.
If I’m not careful in how I pose the question, when I ask leaders about their legacy, I might get canned retirement speech. “I want to leave this business prepared for the future and knowing that I made a difference.”
But as our conversation continues, the import of considering one’s legacy within just the next five years becomes clear. This is an era of transformative disruption.
What keeps many leaders awake is being Uber’d — experiencing massive disruptions in everything they do that seem to come out of nowhere – disruptions that can uproot entire businesses and industries before they’ve finished their morning cup of coffee.
How does a leader stay true to long-term passions, priorities, possibilities and progress during such crazy times?
My team and I spent several years asking over 7,000 leaders across the globe exactly that. We focused not on what so many have already discussed — technologies, globalization, market shifts, and more. We went beyond all the hyperventilating about disruptive futures. We wanted to know how leaders made future strong choices, how they will make the future work.
We asked, “What are the toughest choices you must make to create the best possible future for your firm?”
Leading on Purpose Begins With You
We found that how and why leaders make those choices actually matters more than the next disruptive challenge.
The future is personal. It reveals itself to you only after you have made a deeply personal choice about how you will embrace it. And your past has as much to do with those choices as anything else. Specifically, we found that each leader’s crucible moments had a major impact on his or her decision-making during disruptive times. These are the moments that shape or test your view of the world.
Leaders told us of how charity from a stranger shaped who they are, or being bullied as a child, or the death of a family member, or being a refugee from war, or global travel, or a meaningful moment in problem-solving, sports or service to others. They told us thousands of stories that anchored each leader’s hero’s journey — their moments of personal transformation that shaped who they are.
Most every leader boiled it down to what SAP CEO Bill McDermott recently shared at EY Strategic Growth Forum: “My mother told me ‘The best part of you, is you.’ Just be you.”
So what the future is personal means to you: The best guiding principle for dealing with massively disruptive changes is to just be you. Not the you who is overly concerned with risk-assessing and managing those risks. The you from that crucible moment — the you who is anchored by the values, passions and insights from your own crucible moments.
Just be Crucible Moment You.
The future is outside your comfort zone. To get there successfully, you’ll need to make choices you’re not yet ready to make.
What we found in our Future of Work Study: If you are like most every leader out there, most every successful strategic choice you will make over the next five years will be outside your comfort zone.
From our study, here are just a few of the challenges you will face over the next five years . . .
- Human capacity is maxed out. With today’s 20th century hierarchies, people and performance systems – to realize your firm’s truly limitless capacity, you must disrupt and reimagine those systems.
- Less than 10% of the mainstream workforce can achieve their dreams where they currently work.
- 88 out of every 100 employees believe that their employer does not respect their time or use it wisely.
- Glacier and Hare: Companies have been hyperfast at changing cost and efficiency systems and glacially slow in changing people systems.
Most every solution: Outside most every leader’s comfort zone.
So, Five Years From Now…
What Will Your Legacy Be?
Most every strategy . . . Most every plan . . . Most everything you know, feel, and do . . . Will be Uber’d.
The disruptions will be major and many will be unpredictable. The best way to get through it all: Just be you. Crucible Moment You. In that moment, someone or something from your past handed you a legacy to pass on to future generations.
Honor that moment and it will be an amazing future . . . An amazing legacy.
Bill Jensen is CEO of the Jensen Group, a New Jersey-based change consulting firm, focused on the future of work. As Mr. Simplicity, Bill makes it easier for people to do great work. His eighth book, Future Strong, is on sale now. Follow him on Twitter @simpletonbill.
The Product Management Perspective: Product management is all about the future. What product(s) will meet the needs of the market? How will your product meet the needs of its customers? Why will potential customers get excited when they hear about it? And more importantly, why will they buy your product instead of spending their money on something else? Take a look at what’s holding you back—what’s keeping you in the comfort zone—and find ways to break through. Follow Bill Jensen’s advice…don’t let your product be Uber’d.