Who’s the boss of the future? What must she be able to do? Should she expect more chaos, or is more stability possible? Should she invest in control and management, or should she rely on trust? Is there one answer? Do we even need one? Or do we perhaps today need more of everything in our parallel and simultaneous society?

Due to complexity and speed, more pressure lies on managers and organizations to make rapid and clear decisions. The boss can no longer do it alone because the complexity is simply too high. Today it is all about getting the work done together. But many managers stand in their own way. They lack self-awareness, trust and the ability to change their own perspective. Many are driven by reactions, and the frustration is often let out on employees. “The boss should be the one to judge, he bears the responsibility”—that is the perception, though the success-factors of business in the 21st century lies elsewhere. Managers must now become leaders or risk becoming obsolete. Artificial intelligence (AI) and “the project” are the new and true bosses. The task is to navigate through “wild knowledge”, the unknown unknown or the unknown knowns (what you didn’t know that you know). The role of “the boss” is now on the hot seat.

Activators and Not Stabilizers Are Wanted

Today we find senior managers in many companies who make no actual value-contribution to the organization other than administration and preservation of the company. The role of the information-distributor and the monitor has long since been taken over by technology, and tomorrow we will see that the perfect manager is a good AI, an algorithm, and not a human being. Paired with automation and new technologies, we are finally moving the role of the manager into the machine. In the near future, it will affect many who will have nothing more to do. Today’s senior managers no longer understand the world, drive an SUV and a second car, have distributed money in real estate, are well positioned, but hate their lives and their jobs because they realize that they have become superfluous.

Young people, on the other hand, seek their dream companies, careers, and jobs and no longer need “bosses” in the way that they used to. They are looking for mentors and companions, designers and creators of their journey, not managers, retainers, and administrators. They seek human beings who can give them something valuable. Through experience and experiences, through integration and co-creation, through life-long-learning thereby learning how to teach, and teaching how to learn. The true Leader provides a natural introduction to the ancient Greek “Rhetoric”—learning about ethos (character, credibility, and trust), pathos (the emotional appeal through persuasion and entrainment with the help of emotions, stories and values) and logos (the rational argumentation and derivation). This is the basis for creating new stories and relations, which in turn holds the economy together. People don’t buy products and services, human beings buy stories they feel and relate to, and true relationships. Today this is the structure required, leadership is now everywhere in the organization. The demand is no longer for strong managers, but for leaders of change.

Soft Skills Are the True Hard Skills. The Quest for Courage

Hiding behind facades, roles, and hierarchies may still be perceived as a form of authority. But today it’s about meeting people at eye level. To “come out” in a conversation as someone who is not knowledgeable blockchain, AGI, or quantum computers is not a weakness.

In the business-world, covering up ignorance is found on a daily basis. Instead of relying on enlightenment and understanding as a common ground for co-creation, people cover up, play political games, and act tactically in order to remain “in control.” One does not want to show any weakness, believing it would make them vulnerable to attack on their “way up.” But the supposed weakness of saying “I don’t know” in front of the team, or in conversation openly admitting “That hurt,” “I have no idea how to answer that,” “You caught me completely off guard,” “May I perhaps go home and think about it or read up,” or ”Can we continue this conversation tomorrow?”, is actually real strength. Leadership means courage. Courage to show feelings. Courage to be vulnerable. Those who allow for both feelings and vulnerability return to the birthplace of creation and innovation, trust and relations. Empathy, trust, and vulnerability are not soft skills, but the actual hard skills, and they must be practiced every day.

Meetings Turn Into Co-Creation Sessions and Thinking-Time 

Most meetings are superfluous because managers go in unprepared, don’t stick to the schedule, and read off of PowerPoint slides. You can literally feel that many in the room don’t understand what the session is all about, let alone why you’re sitting together. Unconscious playing around with the smartphone, constantly scrolling down in the hope of salvation through a new email or text message, are signals that radical measures are needed. When the need for a new dopamine injection takes over, action must be taken.

So many meetings and weekly jours fixes must be removed from the calendar. However, they remain as time-consumers and energy-eaters because no one dares to address the obvious. But real leaders of change encourage open dialogue. People who dare to question the meaningfulness of meetings—those who speak up—will be rewarded in the future.

Companies that implement and live such a culture will be successful. “Bye-Bye Blah-Blah-Land, enough of “popular opinions” and chatter, or “Doxa”, as the ancient Greeks called it. It is time to start creating and actually take action.

We also need new structures for meetings and actually tap into the concept of “learning.” Reading PowerPoint slides aloud has had its day. Nothing new can come out of it—there is no learning process for the “listeners” (zombies) in the room. If the lecturer explains more in detail, there is at least a possibility that something will be saved for a short period of time. True learning, however, comes from feeling, experiencing and participating. This is why it is important not only to question the meaningfulness of these meetings and to reduce the amount of them but also to adapt their form. Instead of “Meetings,” “Co-Creation Sessions” now appear in the calendar. Everyone gets a story and comes prepared to shape the organization. “Enough talk, it is time to do:” True to these words, ” lively sessions will emerge in which ambiguities are cleared up and new ideas created.

Through the reorganization and the critical questioning of the meaningfulness and quantity of today’s meetings, additional time can be freed up. With the newly gained time, one to two thinking-hours per week should be introduced: regular appointments for doing nothing. Or an hour with a white sheet of paper and a pen or a philosophy book to read. Today’s generation of managers are fit and fabulous, and do everything for their bodies. Stephen Hawking called it our “chemical scum”—marathons and smoothies, gym-visits and healthy living find their place in the fully-packed calendar. Bench-presses or squats for the mind, however, should also find their place at least once or twice a week as a recurring appointment in the calendar.

We Need More Female Brains in Business 

If “strength” is understood to mean moral strength, then women are superior to men. Women are particularly well qualified for leadership positions in the 21st century. Due to their brain structure, they are significantly better than men at empathic, team-oriented, and self-controlled leadership.

If we turn to science, there are many pieces of evidence for this: One of which is the different hormone levels of the sexes, where women’s brains are flooded with estrogen while men are flooded with testosterone. According to current research, the development of the frontal lobe (prefrontal cortex) is particularly strongly stimulated by estrogen; therefore, it is on average larger in women and matures faster than in men. Cognition and decision-making—two important factors when it comes to entrepreneurial action, and leadership in general, in a world that is rapidly changing and becoming increasingly complex—are among the factors attributed to this evolutionary youngest part of the human brain. Brain research shows that there are differences in the way men and women deal with deadline pressure and stress, and when it comes to keeping a cool head in a dicey situation. Among other things, the smaller amygdala in women is the reason for this.

The fact that the female brain does not easily “blow fuses” has to do with the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, this part of the limbic system to which impulse control is assigned is much larger than in men. Researchers assume that the anatomical difference at least partly explains the lower risk propensity for this to happen in girls and women. The combination of a smaller amygdala and a larger anterior cingulate cortex allows women to control their feelings even under high pressure and to think about the best possible solutions.

The different “wiring” of the brain is also important. Male brains have more neurons, but female brains have more connections between the hemispheres. Typically, men tend to use their left hemisphere, to which understanding, logic, and pattern recognition are assigned. Therefore, they are good at focusing on individual goals and approaching tasks systematically. They can motivate themselves but tend to act mechanistically and detached from their environment. Women, on the other hand, often tend to use their right hemisphere, which enables them to empathize, connect with others, create and maintain social structures, and find creative solutions. In addition, they are far more able than men to use both hemispheres at the same time. The so-called insular cortex is also larger in the female brain than in the male. It is regarded as the seat of intuition, the location of the proverbial gut-feeling.

Empathic abilities, emotional awareness, and speech-mediated thinking are assigned to the insula. Therefore, women (as well as female primates) have better communication skills and are better able to recognize faces and express emotions than their male counterparts. They are also better at interpreting the feelings of others and deciphering hints that men often do not even register.

On average, women also have a better memory than men. This is because their hippocampus, the seat of memory, is larger and more active than that of men. Women can, therefore, learn better and remember what they have learned longer, especially since their auditory cortex, which is responsible for the verbalization of remembered and learned things, is also larger than that of men.

In the 21st century, women can do everything better than men when it comes to leadership.

Leadership and Singular Infinity

In Businesses and in Leadership it is not a question of winning or losing, but of playing along as long as possible. Leadership is infinite. Today’s economy demands far-sightedness and a perfect circular-economy. Companies and executives are increasingly being forced to act ethically and morally “correctly.” Models such as the “Share-Economy” and “Cradle-to-Cradle,” coupled with Micropreneurship and the Gig-Economy, are in demand. Demands for the creation and implementation of “Climate-Take-Back” technologies and an infinite usage of all products and resources are topics with which executives are now concerned.

The goal of companies will be to produce infinitely usable and reusable goods. Leadership must adapt to this infinity. Leaders of change carry a vision beyond the ego. Leaders today face the challenge of mastering the interdependence between man and nature, local and global, competition and cooperation. Everything is connected to everything—Leadership is about mastering singular infinity.

Practical Philosophy for Everyone

Philosophers are becoming increasingly important in the C-Suite and as sparring partners in organizations around the world. Silicon Valley pioneer tech-companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have their “in-house philosophers” working on various agendas and questioning everything. The new “Philosophy Officers” are taking on a new central role in the organization in order to cope with change, thus taking a holistic view of leadership. The new “C-role” is characterized by the fact that it does not mean “Chief,” but “Companion.” The CPO (Chief Philosophy Officer) may have this role in the near future, but philosophical contemplation belongs to the entire organization. Philosophers write books—practical (applied) philosophy changes the world. Pushing for a  “revolution of consciousness,” taking the first initial steps into philosophical contemplation, is the basis for mastering the challenges ahead, both in the business world and in our life in general.

Where to Start?

Trust is the new currency and the leading KPI. You should not only focus on financial audits, but also introduce regular self-audits. In order to trust others, you first have to trust yourself. We all must become more aware of what we are good at, what we are not good at, how we are perceived, and how others feel about us. One of the biggest challenges is that managers overestimate themselves all the time. The higher they are in the hierarchy, the more extreme the overestimate is.

Given the fact that the team is becoming more important than the boss, it is more urgent than ever for leaders to set limits, create clear borders for what he or she stands for, be reliable, and show some honest respect for other people and skills.

Start by defining your framework of values. It’s not about great websites and multi-page glossy brochures, but about two or three core values of what you stand for. One might appreciate this reduction from a long list of values to two or three and is not an easy task, but it is essential to give clarity to everyone around you and help you navigate. When everyone—including yourself—is clear with the core values, working together and trusting each other will become much easier.

When this has been achieved, creating and designing what you define as success—and the basis for it (perseverance, resilience and vulnerability, i.e., allowing real feelings)—becomes much easier. Replace precociousness with curiosity, and judgment and evaluation with interest. Write “interested” on your fridge at home to give you a daily reminder that you should become a bit more conscious and interested. Be generous with the time you invest in people, then other people will turn to you. You will automatically become interesting. We all like interesting people. We like to share with interesting people. Interesting people attract talent, and somehow everything manages to fall into place.

Be interested and you will become interesting.