Resources from the CCL on the Future of Leadership

The Center for Creative Leadership is a US-based international leadership development organization and think tank. 

In exploring various aspects of futures literature, I have discovered a number of interesting resources related to their views on the future of leadership.   Have not found a lot of literature on this topic – so this was of interest to me.   Full disclosure – I have participated in CCL’s leadership programs in the past – though I have no affiliation with them now.    I have found them helpful (though often involve a need to adjust to a social work frame) – but want to be clear I’m not offering an endorsement.   I share these in the spirit of surfacing and sharing good information to be used in our work where appropriate.    While these resources are not “social work specific” they provide a window, in short, to leading through increasing complexity and more dynamic change than perhaps any prior era in history.  These dynamics ultimately impact social work leadership at unprecedented levels as well.  Our challenge is always to retain and adhere to our social work values as we navigate an increasingly challenging practice and leadership ecosystems.  

Please share your thoughts or other ideas about “leadership for the future” resources you’ve discovered!  Join the conversation! 

White paper on the future of leadership (from 2014)

Brief piece on “vertical leadership” (2017)

Video on Leadership Development – Transformations model (2017)

White paper on vertical leadership development – part one (2014)

White paper on vertical leadership development – part two (2015)

Leadership and the Future

Thinking about this this morning…these creative ideas from author Bob Johansen really inspire me.   

I like the start of them…but I’m the process of doing some gentle editing based on my social work sensibilities.   I’d love to hear what folks in my social work community think of these and how they might enhance them…? Hive mind!  More to come as this project evolves!!  


Leaders Make the Future Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World
Bob Johansen


1. Maker Instinct. Ability to exploit your inner drive to build and grow things, as well as connect with others in the making. Leaders need this basic skill to make and remake organizations.

2. Clarity. Ability to see through messes and contradictions to a future that others cannot yet see. Leaders must be clear about what they are making but flexible about how it gets made.

3. Dilemma Flipping. Ability to turn dilemmas – which, unlike problems, cannot be solved into advantages and opportunities.

4. Bio-Empathy. Ability to see things from nature’s point of view, to understand, respect, and learn from its patterns. Nature has it’s own clarity, if only we humans can understand and engage with it.

5. Constructive De-Polarizing. Ability to calm tense situations where differences dominate and communication has broken down – and bring people from divergent cultures toward positive engagement.

6. Quiet Transparency. Ability to be open and authentic about what matters – without being overly self-promoting. If you advertise yourself, you will become a big target.

7. Immersive Learning Ability. Ability to immerse yourself in unfamiliar environment, to learn from them in a first-person way.

8. Rapid Prototyping. Ability to create quick early versions of innovations with the expectation that later success will require early failures. Leaders will need to learn from early setbacks and learn to fail in interesting ways.

9. Smart-Mob Organizing. Ability to create, engage with, and nurture purposeful business or social change networks through intelligent use of electronic media and in-person communication.

10. Commons Creating. Ability to seed, nurture, and grow shared assets that can benefit all players – and allow competition at a higher level. This is the most important future leadership skill and it grows from all the others.
The ability to flip from the frightening VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) to a hopeful VUCA (vision, understanding, clarity and agility) will be the ultimate dilemma for leaders in the future.