Podcast: Future-ready leadership

Here’s a question every industry is going to have to grapple with sooner or later: What does future-focused leadership look like?

My guest this week, Rachel Druckenmiller, is on a mission to humanize the workplace by igniting intentional leadership. She has made a name for herself nationally in the fields of workplace wellness and culture. In 2019, she was recognized as a 40 Under 40 Game Changer by Workforce Magazine, and in 2018, Employ Humanity named her one of “7 Wellness Leaders Making a Positive Impact.”

But all of this — well-being, wellness, culture — it all ties directly to leadership. Rachel trains leadership teams to be more self-aware, curious, and connected so that they can have greater impact and influence at their organizations.

With those types of insights at hand, I wanted to find out from Rachel what a future-ready leader looks like.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • What we can focus on today to make ourselves better leaders tomorrow.
  • How we can start building future-ready workplaces that can facilitate future-focused leadership?
  • The roles that culture and wellness play in this notion of future-ready leadership.

Listen to our conversation here:

What does future-focused leadership look like?
There are certainly a lot of opinions on the subject.

Douglas Ready, a senior lecturer in organizational effectiveness at the MIT Sloan School of Management, recently wrote an article titled “Leadership Mindsets for the New Economy,” in which he says there are four such mindsets that leaders must adopt as we move forward:

“Number 1: Producers. The producers’ mindset combines an obsession for producing customer value with a focus on analytics, digital savviness, execution, and outcomes. Producers use analytics to accelerate innovation that addresses shifts in customer preferences and improves customer and user experiences.

“Number 2: Investors. Leaders with an investors’ mindset pursue an organizational purpose beyond increasing shareholder returns. They are dedicated to growth, but in a sustainable fashion. They care about the communities in which they operate and the welfare and continuous development of their employees. They invest in enhancing the value of their customers rather than viewing them as streams of revenue.

“Number 3: Connectors. Leaders with a connectors’ mindset understand that mastering relationships and networks is the new currency that drives organizational effectiveness in the new economy. Connectors get this at their core. It’s how they operate. They regularly bring together diverse stakeholders from both inside the company and with ecosystem partners.

“And Number 4: Explorers. Leaders with an explorers’ mindset are curious and creative, and operate well in the fog of ambiguity. They engage in continuous experimentation and learn by listening to many varied voices.”

Then there’s Mahro Zaman, who wrote an article for Thrive Global titled “10 Effective Leadership Skills for Success.” Those 10 skills are:

  1. Effective communication.
  2. Be a motivator.
  3. Remain optimistic.
  4. Reach out to your team members.
  5. Develop creativity.
  6. Be responsible.
  7. Learn to delegate.
  8. Be empathetic.
  9. Honesty and integrity.
  10. Be flexible.

Others break future-focused leadership down to a couple of sentences:

  • John Maxwell says, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
  • Michel de Montaigne says, “No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port.”
  • And finally, Tom Peters says, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

My guest this week, Rachel Druckenmiller, has a slightly different perspective. She sees effective future leaders as being more intentional and connected, helping their teams thrive relationally, emotionally, and physically.

So take your pick. As a leader, you could do any one of those things and be wildly successful. Do them all and you could write a textbook on future-focused leadership.



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