Leaders of the Future

The last few months have provided an interesting perspective on how leadership operates in unchartered territory. Being on the receiving end of decisions and policy, schools have faced difficult challenges as a result of Government actions. It has been a true test of leadership for the country and it raises the importance of developing excellent leaders for the future.

Alan Kay, the educator and computer designer, once commented, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” What does it take to invent the future in such a turbulent and uncertain world? How can accomplished leaders be sure that their hard-earned wisdom and expertise do not limit what they can imagine? How do successful organisations build on their experiences? How do established brands stay true to their original commitment, while also making themselves relevant to new customers with different values and preferences?

There are a number of types of leader who are successful in building capacity for the future.

The Optimist with Strength

Leadership is an emotional as well as intellectual act. The way leaders present themselves, the attitude and outlook they exude, sets the tone for what is required to make deep-seated change in turbulent times. Great leaders exude resilient optimism. The future is not shaped by people who do not really believe in the future. It is created by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by people who are passionate about the future and what could be achieved.

The Personal Interrupter

When you have been in an organisation for a long time, having achieved lots, it can the hard to see new patterns and possibilities, to have ambitious vision. All too often, leaders allow what they know and traditional ways of working to limit what they can imagine.

Sometimes individual leaders just need to wipe the slate clean. This act of personal reinvention is brutally difficult but absolutely necessary. Too often, pride in our most recent idea becomes a barrier to seeing our next idea. Leaders prepared for the future understand when it is time to disrupt themselves.

The Learning Fanatic

Part of being an effective leader involves being a teacher, which can bring huge satisfaction. Sharing the wisdom acquired over the course of a career with less experienced colleagues eager to learn and develop can be rewarding. However, when it comes to inventing the future, the most effective leaders are the most insatiable learners. Creative leaders are always asking themselves, “Am I learning as fast as the world is changing?”

Garry Ridge, Chief Executive of the brand WD-40 since 1997, has introduced huge innovations and led unprecedented growth. The secret of the company’s success is his devotion to building an organisation of “learning maniacs”, committed to engaging with new technologies and business models. “Team Tomorrow” was formed to empower a group of executives and engineers to ignite a learning culture throughout the company. His favourite question to colleagues, a test of their enthusiasm for learning, is, “When’s the last time you did something for the first time?” Leaders prepared for the future are determined to keep learning as fast as the world is changing.

At Yateley Manor we believe in preparing the children for successful adult lives. Leadership in some capacity will cross the bows of every child as they voyage through life’s challenges. The types of leadership described here are possible to commence in school. We model positive thinking in the children. We encourage children to think big, to look outside the box and push aside any traditional responses to their learning. Above all else, we instil in the children a passion for learning because they are our future and we need them to adapt to an ever-changing world.


Robert Upton