February 2, 2023

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Kick-Start 2023: Be a future-ready leader

IF you have a motorcycle, you know that to get the engine running you have to start it by depressing a ratchet lever with your foot. In a figurative sense, “kick-start” means to initiate a project or initiative, ie to start a process and get things going. Boosting also means making something faster or improving it.

The year 2023 is just around the corner and after almost three years of the pandemic, many organizations, including associations, are gearing up for business. The world of “living with Covid” will continue to bring massive disruption, change and uncertainty. As a leader, you cannot guarantee certainty, but you can bring more clarity and confidence to your organization.

This was the premise of a webinar I recently attended, conducted by Australia-based futurist Gihan Perera, who listed three processes to bring clarity and confidence to your business:

1. Understand and accept reality. The future is nothing like it used to be and is different from what you previously expected. To understand reality, you not only need to know about yourself, but also what is going on around you and what is happening to the rest of the world. Assessing internal and external factors and pressures is key to clarity and confidence building.

In an organizational setting, one scenario planning tool you can use to assess external factors is “Pestel”—acronym for Political, Environmental, Social, Technological, Legal, and Economic. Here you can find information about challenges you may encounter in fulfilling your proposed activities and prepare for actions and solutions to mitigate them.

When it comes to associations, accepting the reality that your members will expect more from you in the days to come allows you to plan ahead and execute with confidence.

2. Explore possibilities. Knowing the challenges and meeting them head-on is one thing; Finding opportunities that are equally important to you to grow in the future is another as different people have different goals and expectations.

You can’t be future-proof, but you can be future-ready. Future leaders find the right balance between the needs of their employees and the goals of their organization. They treat their employees first, but know that performance counts too.

What new skills should I focus on? What is most important to your members now? These are some of the questions you need to answer.

3. Set priorities. You won’t be able to do everything you set out to do, so prioritization is a must. Perhaps the “AHA” approach (for “Action-Habit-As if”) will help.

Action determines the “what” and the “how”. What are the most valuable things you can do in the short term to make a difference? Habit gives you the discipline to do something every day until it becomes your nature. The “as if” gives you a different personality or role model to emulate. AHA creates the momentum to get things moving.

In a rapidly changing world, you can no longer do many things alone. The old top-down management style is obsolete. The new environment is full of complex problems that require diverse thinking to find solutions. Future-ready leaders don’t build better followers; they create more leaders.

Octavio B. Peralta is currently Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network Philippines and Founder and Honorary CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the Association of Associations. Email: bobby@pcaae.org.