HomeSpecial ReportHow To Empower Your Company With Superhero Leadership

How To Empower Your Company With Superhero Leadership

Ben Lytle knows superhero leadership.

The self-made serial entrepreneur-CEO has spent his life and career looking ahead at how innovations will impact workplaces and communities. Vision and foresight aided his guidance of companies like the health benefits behemoth Anthem, which he founded, and those themes are the subject of his book “The Potentialist: Your Future in the New Reality of the Next Thirty Years.”

I recently spoke to Lytle about the emerging tools and technologies bosses of the future will have at their disposal — some of which will make them feel as though they’re the heroes of their own comic book movie franchise. The next generation of leaders will be sharper, quicker and more adept at leading teams with maximum efficiency and impact.

Ben Lytle knows superhero leadership.

The self-made serial entrepreneur-CEO has spent his life and career looking ahead at how innovations will impact workplaces and communities. Vision and foresight aided his guidance of companies like the health benefits behemoth Anthem, which he founded, and those themes are the subject of his book “The Potentialist: Your Future in the New Reality of the Next Thirty Years.”

I recently spoke to Lytle about the emerging tools and technologies bosses of the future will have at their disposal — some of which will make them feel as though they’re the heroes of their own comic book movie franchise. The next generation of leaders will be sharper, quicker and more adept at leading teams with maximum efficiency and impact.

Here are seven of the new world realities that Lytle envisions leaders facing in the coming years.

  1. Mind and Machine

Zoom meetings are just the beginning. Future leaders will have access to an arsenal of new tools that will help them not only streamline everyday tasks, but also better connect with the minds and feelings of their team.

Lytle says voice-based or thought-based brain-to-computer interfaces (BCIs) present the chance to compose email or create presentations with nothing more than your mind, a direct connection between brain and machine.

“With thought activation, you won’t need to type, speak, or look at a monitor to engage the virtually unlimited power and information available in the cloud. You would no longer need to text or call anyone—simply think and it happens,” Lytle wrote in “The Potentialist.”

“With thought activation, you won’t need to type, speak, or look at a monitor to engage the virtually unlimited power and information available in the cloud.”

In the coming years, managers will also be able to analyze employees’ brain signals through wearable devices, which poses a lot of potentially ethical concerns. As Alexandre Gonfalonieri wrote in a 2020 essay for Harvard Business Review, “At the end of each annual performance review, are we going to also analyze and compare attention levels thanks to our BCIs? Your brain information may be of interest to your employers, allowing them to keep an eye on how focused you are, and allowing them to adapt employees’ workloads accordingly.”

Having access to so many tools and so much information will empower managers like never before. Instead of getting buried in mundane tasks, future bosses can focus on the details that matter most — and better keep employees engaged with work that fulfills them. Workers will have access to lifelong, personalized learning that will be available anywhere, ensuring that they are staying at the forefront of opportunities and expanding their skillset.

  1. Longer Lifespan

People in the future are going to live longer — maybe a lot longer. Some experts believe that the first person to live to 150 has already been born.

“When you extend life expectancy, it’s like stretching a rubber band,” Lytle told me. “The stages of life expand. Kids grow up slower. They get married later. They have children later.

“People are really at their best from about 45 or 50 to about 70. They are physically very strong, typically their health is good, they are at their peak intellectual power, usually the peak of their career. They are smarter and wiser and don’t have so much to prove.

Now, imagine those 20 years becoming 40 years or 60 years. What could people do with their lives? It’s just an astonishing thought.”

Living and working longer will make it more likely that people will make more career and employment transitions.

  1. With Great Power…

With any emerging technology, as well as enhanced physical and intellectual power, there is always the potential for misuse. And leaders of the future will need to be guided by wisdom.

Those empowered by emerging technology “will become supermen and superwomen, but a few will undoubtedly attempt to become supervillains like Superman’s evil archenemy Lex Luthor,” Lytle states in “The Potentialist.”

Web 3.0 is going to democratize information and wisdom across the team, and it will also offer a deeper focus on human development, providing experienced-based training and resources on how to seize your potential and accelerate your wisdom.

The moral obligation for future leaders is reflected by the unofficial motto Google embraced during its early years: “Don’t be evil.” Technology can have positive and negative applications, and it will be up to future leaders to ensure that emerging technologies are used for good.

  1. Head in the Clouds

The Cloud, the network of servers that support a host of digital tools, will be the main driver for development in the coming decades. Cloud technology is poised to disrupt everything from the use of money to meetings, shopping and travel.

Metaverse technology presents opportunities for training and upskilling employees, hosting virtual meetings and events, and collaborating in new ways. The cloud has the potential to create a more connected, less siloed business environment. But, according to Lytle, “The challenge for you will be deciding, to the degree possible, how fast and to what extent you become cloud dependent and what you can do to protect yourself and your career, or employer, from the risks.”

As the cloud becomes universal, we will have the opportunity to give people all over the world —  people in the worst situations — the greatest education and business opportunities they’ve ever had.

But with the potential of cloud technology also comes the need for privacy and security protections, a power struggle between good and evil. Before our world becomes totally cloud-dependent, many issues need to be addressed.

“The name of the game is agility, but without increasing your risk,” Talia Gershon, Director of Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Research for IBM, said during a virtual summit, “The Future of Hybrid Cloud,” hosted in April by Fast Company and IBM.

For leaders, that means weighing risks and rewards and acting decisively in deploying cloud technology for your company’s processes and strategies.

  1. Sharing and Caring

We communicate in so many different ways. Text messages. Email. Phone calls. Company messages and video conferencing. And communication stands poised to evolve further in the coming decades.

The importance of clear communication across teams was reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many teams worked remotely across scattered workplaces trying to replicate face-to-face communication with a hodgepodge of virtual meetings.

Future communications technology will encourage relationship-building through methods like shared experiences — bringing down barriers that have stifled innovation since Biblical times. Imagine employees across the world communicating in real time and understanding each other despite speaking different languages.

But Lytle says those forms of communication will also create shared simultaneous experiences that eclipse anything we have encountered before. Imagine watching the same movie or reading the same book or witnessing the same historical speech simultaneously with others from around the world and interpreting it just as others are, responding to their real-time reactions.

Managing in the New Reality means rethinking company communication and harnessing the emotions of shared experiences. Work meetings will never be the same.

  1. Integration vs. Balance

A career is a calling card and a means of earning a living, but it can mean so much more, a chance to build rapport with coworkers and customers.

Work is a major facet in our lives. For full-time employees, work can take up roughly a quarter of our time in a given week.

The structure and means of completing that work is becoming better integrated in employees’ lives. Work-life balance has made way for “work-life integration,” which blends personal and professional elements congruously.

It’s important for managers to embrace flexibility in this new workplace model. Workers are more inclined to be juggling work and personal tasks, and it’s becoming more and more unrealistic to expect workers to be available — or at their best — for typical eight-hour shifts. This is especially true in an age of globalization when teams could be based in all corners of the world.

Forty-three percent of workers believe flexibility in working hours helps them achieve greater productivity, according to the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey. Added flexibility could additionally help teams recruit and retain top talent and avoid the dreaded burnout that can come from companies being run in hierarchical ways.

  1. Deliberate Leadership

Management of the future will need to be much more deliberate.

With so much information available to managers — from deeper metrics on employee efficiency and attentiveness to customer shopping insights — the tried-and-true methods of trial and error won’t work so well anymore. The days of learning from your mistakes will be replaced by largely avoiding them. Accelerated innovation will compress the time we have to react or make decisions, and decisions will be more complex than ever before.

And with so much advancement, it’s going to be crucial for leaders to stay in front of emerging technologies.Otherwise, other team members are liable to become experts themselves and rise to the front of the group.

As Lytle writes, “We need not abandon our old ways entirely. But we need to act much more thoughtfully and deliberately when adaptation cannot wait until the last minute and the consequences are severe.”

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