HACKING ABUNDANCE PART I: DEVELOPING BETTER LEADERS FASTER

HACKING ABUNDANCE PART I: DEVELOPING BETTER LEADERS FASTER
#1: (Tech Philanthropists and Beyond)
 
Abundance spends a fair amount of time cataloguing the impact that the radical wealth transfer to younger, more engaged winners of the information economy has had on global philanthropy (see Steven’s recent Forbes piece for a great short summary).
But it doesn’t unpack why the Gates, Omidyars, and even Zuckerbergs of the world, may be choosing to spend their fortunes differently than the Robber Barrons of prior booms.
That shift hints at entrepreneurs with world views and self-senses not merely satisfied with a stable of fancy cars, or a hall full of exotic hunting mounts–of leaders who thrive in solving complex problems, within and beyond their chosen industries, and within and beyond their own immediate spheres of concern.
Put simply, it seems like les enfants terrible of Silicon Valley are growing up, and just in time to make a big difference.
Many academic and popular writers are taking this developmental theme a step further, arguing that to stand any chance at all of succeeding on an increasingly chaotic global stage, leaders, and not just the Davos set, have to take on increasingly complex perspectives to keep up.
Stanford’s Carol Dweck convincingly argues in Mindset that a rigid mindset creates a world of problems for rapid learning, and that an open, growth-oriented attitude is essential to keep pace.
In Five Minds for the Future Harvard’s Howard Gardner proposes that leaders can’t just improve their current mind, they’ve got to develop five coordinated perspectives–the Disciplinary, Synthesizing, Creating, Respectful and Ethical minds.
Popularizer Dan Pink shrewdly boils down his recommmendations in A Whole New Mind to a more user friendly marriage of Left Brain/Right Brain and proposes that all of those artsy fartsy qualities overlooked in engineering and business school are now the new currency (take that Poli-Sci/Econ majors!).
Rotman Business School’s Roger Martin echoes the theme in his Opposable Mind making his case for the integrative thinkers behind Proctor and Gamble, eBay and the Four Seasons who could “hold two opposing ideas in their minds at once, and then reach a synthesis that contains elements of both but improves on each.”
And just so this doesn’t come across as the latest wave of pop-psych self-improvement-in-a-business-suit, Bill Torbert (Yale by way of Boston College) describes an exhaustive study in his Harvard Business Review article that demonstrated that more developed leaders “succeeded in generating one or more complex change initiatives over a four year period, improving their company’s market share, profitability and reputation.  By contrast, only 40% of the other CEOs (all scoring lower on tests of complexity) succeeded in transforming their organizations.”
 
Any way you cut it, to be a successful leader today means juggling a lot more open windows on your browser, and upgrading your OS so you don’t crash and lose everything right when it matters most.
It’s no longer adequate to be a code wizard, spreadsheet jockey, or smooth pitchman.  Leaders will have to focus on their own vertical development as aggressively as they used to focus on their horizontal skills.
Conscious Complexity trumps Categorical Competency.
 
Flow States are the secret sauce to accelerate this vertical development–turbo charging deliberate practice/mastery as well as providing glimpses of future abilities that create essential reference points for further development.

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