Now think for a second, how long does it to take to build new capabilities or business models? To change mindsets about consumers and building relationships with them? To change organisational culture? In a world of accelerating change, the biggest risk for leaders is not being wrong in their point of view about the future, but being late to take action. Today's leaders must learn to be 'at one' with people, to quickly spot patterns and take action. So something that has been pivotal to a leader's ability to create a following is their ability to build a business, cause or ideal that tells a compelling story - one that a hyper connected world understands, believes and can verify. All of the leaders above took actions years ago in preparation of trends they were observing. Very few traditional leaders would ever pay attention to building a wealth of knowledge and accumulated learning on ideas, concepts and patterns. This is why the new leaders are so disruptive; they change the rules of the game, create new niches that are so beyond the reach of incumbents that they can never mobilise enough resources to pivot. Dozens of industry leaders are facing this very challenge, NOW.
Leadership & Innovation to watch in 2014
So the leaders to watch in 2014 are naturally self-starters - either entrepreneurs or one of the new intrapreneur breeds - and individuals that can affect adaptation and evolution from within an established organisation. They are defined by their natural, yet almost obsessive desire to observe people first-hand, building empathy and connection with real world people and contexts. They are increasingly of 'digital nativity,' which is so important as more and more industries face digital disruption. It is also a skill that I so heavily push in my latest book 'Mobile Ready', and doubly endorsed by the innovative publishing approach I embarked on with Publishizer's CEO, Guy Vincent. The technology or invention these leaders create is not the focus; instead, it's the impact they have on empowering humanity.
In a poor attempt to bring this all back to a traditional skills mix, this year's leaders to watch will be a savvy mix of marketing, technology and business development, coupled with deep empathy for people. People of this nature will start to gain confidence and momentum as their efforts start to create success. Traditional leaders will be bi-polar on these types, which are somewhat unexplainable but show moments of sheer brilliance.
So next time you have a quiet moment in the train, park or mall, take a few moments to observe those around you. What they are doing, and look for other observers, yes, they may just be a perv, but they may also be tomorrow's innovators.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.