What Lies Ahead?—Part II


Tell me about your day yesterday. Meetings, meals, projects, your commute to the office, weather, a sick child, the funny story you heard…the details are specific and easy to recall. Tell me about your day tomorrow. Details? No, just what you anticipate will happen. You have a plan for the day, but you cannot know what will happen with certainty. Your plan and what you anticipate is based largely on what you know of yesterday and what is happening today.

Four Great Leadership Challenges of Yesterday

Last week, I wrote about Four Great Leadership Challenges in What Lies Ahead?—Part I. These are issues that leaders have been dealing with for the past several years. Leaders of healthy organizations have developed some level of mastery in leading through these four issues:

  • Dealing with horrible economic conditions—the Great Recession has impacted every aspect of organizational and personal finance.
  • Dealing with an increasingly diverse workforce and customer base—increased diversity in ethnicity, religion, and sexuality has changed the face of who we work with and those we serve.
  • Dealing with rapid change in technology—this has transformed how we work and what we think is possible, but also presents new challenges and ethical questions.
  • The shift away from self-reliance and toward dependence on others—American culture is losing its individualistic, localized problem-solving ethic and trading it for a top-down, entitlement-oriented philosophy.

That’s where we’ve been. What lies ahead? What should we anticipate about what it will be like to lead tomorrow based on what we know of yesterday and what we understand about today?

Two Emerging Leadership Challenges of Tomorrow

  1. Gradual legalization of drugs. Look at the news. These “tea leaves” are not hard to read. Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Its use is largely ignored by authorities in other states. A recent Gallup poll found that “a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized.” The shift has been in process for years, largely encouraged by an entertainment industry that has endorsed marijuana and glamorized harder drugs for years. Imagine a near future in which it is legal for your employees to be using mind altering and addictive substances in their personal time. This is already the case with alcohol abuse and you know the potentially devastating effects in the workplace. Think about what an expansion of this problem means for leading your company.
  2. Loss of “protected” status for the church. Currently, laws in the United States afford a number of protections for churches and other religious organizations. The most significant exceptions are regarding taxation and employment law. Additionally, local governments often provide additional accommodations and code enforcement flexibility for local churches and other religious organizations. Historically, these “benefits” have been provided because of the recognized value that churches of all faiths have in the community. However, as the percentage of Americans who attend church weekly continues to slip (some pretty solid research puts the figure at less than 20%), the “mindshare” that the church has had among community leaders also continues to slip. The US has been unique in this respect for a very long time. The picture is different in other countries. My readers in other countries can speak to the evils of true persecution of the church! For leaders of faith-based organizations, the implications are clear. Leaders of other organizations cannot dismiss, though, the effects on their employees of a culture that increasingly marginalizes the role of the church and faith in society and in people’s lives.

As anticipated and emerging leadership challenges, the details are not clear. However, I don’t think you can present a solid argument that either of these challenges will not be a factor in future leadership. You cannot ignore them. You need to consider today how these emerging factors influence your approach to leading.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

Photo “Future City” by Sam Howzit. Available at Flickr.com.

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