Educating the children of today for the leadership roles of tomorrow

26th September 2014

I am looking at senior schools for my son at the moment. Last night I went to an open evening at a local school. The Headmaster gave a thought provoking talk about the ethos of the school. He started by saying that our children will be retiring in about 2070 and, given the rate of change in the last 20 years, who knows what that future will look like. What does that mean for how we educate children today?The headmaster went on to talk about the personal qualities and the thinking skills that will equip today’s youngsters. Gone are the days of my youth when you passed exams by learning stuff and then regurgitating it. In today’s society the memory capacity of an average home PC far exceeds most people’s memory. The skill comes in finding the information you need and then applying it in a way that is useful and insightful.

The presentation about equipping our youth to think lead me onto another train of thought.

All the clients I am working with at the moment are in global and regional leadership roles. A couple are new in role while most have been in role a while. A common thread in my work with them, and they all work in different organisations, is the need to get their teams working more collaboratively. This isn’t usually the entry point to our work. We usually start by talking about the need for business growth and the current challenges, which are thing like:

  • Fragmented working – lack of synergy across countries and product ranges
  • The need to work with the same level of resource and achieve more
  • The challenge of balancing global and local needs
  • The need for short-term results and long-term strategic direction

The common thread of collaboration appears when we talk about HOW we resolve these business challenges. This is where I, finally, link back to my initial train of thought about teaching children to think. The link I see is that, in the past, we taught children to come up with THE answer and we developed leaders to have THE answer, and then tell everyone what to do.

We need to be teaching children the skill of developing AN answer with the understanding that in today’s world there is rarely one solution. To me this ties in with a need for leaders to support their organisations in figuring out the solutions to tomorrow’s problems–this is a very different type of leadership from the past. It means that leadership will come from the ability of a person to harness people power rather than technical expertise. I wonder how many leaders feel equipped to do this? How many of them seek support in working this way?

To continue this conversation about developing our children and applying this thinking to leadership call us at +44 (0) 1628 471 114 or complete the contact form.