Leading in the next economy

Updated: Feb 13

Okay we all know that things are going to be different once the public has had their vaccines. What's the most important thing that we need to keep in mind? Be prepared to lead in the next economy. The economy is going to bounce back. However, everyone needs to be ready! What's the next economy? Well it has been happening for a decade and it was accelerated by the virus over the last year. It is usually impossible to predict the future with certainty but what has been happening in retail, media and the soon the auto sector, should come as no surprise. Not to forget how working from home, less commuting, shopping more online all of these and others are accelerating change. Therefore the future has started and there is no going back.

What is the next economy?

It is the transition we have been expecting to take us from the old economy and enter the next economy or the new one if you prefer. All of this is driven by technology, disruptive innovation and social networks and e-commerce platforms. However, more of it will be driven by Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Augmented Reality and Electric Vehicles. But I pay a lot of attention to other social issues, such as; the environment and social purpose movements. Why? Because our kids and grand children will demand that we do something about it. Governments globally are acting on it and this time it is more than just cheap talk or kicking the can down the road for someone else to solve. This time society is behind the wheel and the leaders who will be running these companies at all levels will be working at really making the world a better place.

The environment is back on track as far as the world is concerned with the election of President Joe Biden. Of course that doesn't make a lot of industries too happy. And social purpose is about keeping companies and people focused on being accountable to basically improve society. All noble things. But they create change.

Is anyone ready to lead in the next economy?

I lead a consulting firm. Led businesses as a CEO and Country General Manager, in Canada, the US and China. Written three books and speak publicly when we used to be in gatherings. I tend to have a global view on everything. But today I am wondering what the next economy will look like. How will we effectively compete in it and consumers behave in it? How will workers adjust to change? In the U.S, alone some 57 million people work in the Gig economy. What is the Gig economy? Basically people work as independent contractors, some as temporary workers others are freelancers or consultants. And we are beginning to see more and more of it. Simply work is changing and work from home may change that faster.

But we will see more change in the next 5-10 years as industries like the auto sector re-configure their plants to make EV’s (electric vehicles) only. Auto makers like General Motors will stop making combustion engine cars by 2035. It could be sooner! That will change the dynamic of every related industry. Think about the impact on the oil sector, manufacturers of mufflers, radiators, or oil and lube places, auto mechanics and auto dealers. They will all change.

Is anyone really ready to lead in the next economy? I am not convinced that we are.

How do you lead in the next economy?

First we need to have a conversation about how leaders need to change. One thing I learned in running companies is that you need to be able to adapt and adopt. Being an inclusive leader is also important. Take a look at the companies that are leading change and the leaders of AMAZON (Jeff Bezos) APPLE (Steve Jobs/Tim Cook) and let's throw in Tesla (Elon Musk) have done, these are leaders have built organizations that created the next economy. Now there are a lot more organizations out there that have done the same and there are more coming. But to survive in business you need to have great leaders with even greater leadership skills. In the book the Great Transition I had a little bit of fun.

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Here is my list or should I say recipe if we were to create the DNA of a future leader.

  • Oratory skills

  • Fighter pilot

  • Athlete

  • Social activist

  • Populist

  • Visionary

  • Mystic

  • Teacher

  • Parent of the year

  • Alchemist or Mad Scientist

Why all these traits?

Because you cannot be unconventional, if you are too conventional. Progress comes from learning to lead change, by adapting, adopting, and by being inclusive and see the competitive landscape as you should. To change the world you need to reinforce a vision with a positive view of the future. In a recent interview I said that retailers for example; will need to refresh their websites and social media messaging faster than they were updating their display windows with merchandise. Three things happen with change. You are either leading, chasing it or a victim to it. That's business reality!

Therefore, businesses need unconventional leaders. However, what I see today are businesses fighting hard for survival. I see those in careers looking for answers. Therefore, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Bill Gates all had something in common. They had dreams, that became visions, they took risks, they were willing to risk ridicule and failure. In the end perseverance and self-determination paid off. That's what the next economy needs. And each of us has that in them.

George Minakakis is the CEO of Inception Retail Group Author of The Great Transition The Emergence of Unconventional Leadership Also watch for my new book, with announcements in the near future.

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