140 Top CEOs Say These are the Most Crucial Challenges for Future Leaders

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140 Top CEOs Say These are the Most Crucial Challenges for Future Leaders

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This blog is provided by Jacob Morgan and the author of the book, “The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade.”  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled “The Future Leader: Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade” that aired on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021.

Leadership has always been challenging, but the future of work will bring fresh challenges to future leaders. Over the next decade, leaders will have to face obstacles and challenges not faced by current or past leaders. But what are those challenges?

As part of the research for my book, The Future Leader, I interviewed over 140 top CEOs from around the world and surveyed around 14,000 LinkedIn users. One of the questions I asked was about the challenges future leaders would face. From their varied and insightful responses, I broke the challenges down to two main areas: futurize and humanize.


Future leaders can’t afford to lead their organizations by looking in the rearview mirror. They need to futurize or bring their organizations into the future. But of course, it isn’t that simple. There are numerous challenges that fall into this category.

Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Thinking

Many leaders think quarter by quarter to please their shareholders and investors. We’ve been conditioned to think in the short term and expect fast results. Future leaders need to be focused on long-term success for both the organization and the people. This requires courage!

Adapting to Technology

New technology is coming incredibly quickly, and it often seems like once we’ve finally mastered something, it’s outdated and there’s a flashy new solution. Leaders need to pay attention to technology and be able to change their perspective to understand what new developments are most important and what else is coming down the pipeline. Technology is not just for IT professionals.

“Today’s leaders need to either decide to embrace new platforms and technology or be prepared to be left behind.” John Legere, Former CEO, T-Mobile

Keeping Up With the Pace of Change

The world is changing incredibly fast, and future leaders will be challenged to keep up. They need to embrace change, stay agile, and be open to new ideas. Whether we look at climate change, globalization, technology, demographics, cybersecurity, geopolitical issues, competition, or any of the other numerous trends shaping our lives and organizations, it’s clear that change happens quickly and happens all the time. We will experience more change in the coming decade than we have experienced in the past hundreds of years.

“The pace of change is faster and while you don’t have to know everything, you do have to know how to get it. The commitment to being a lifelong learner, I think the premium on that is much higher now for our leaders.” William Rogers, CEO, SunTrust Banks

Moving Away from the Status Quo

Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will still work in the future. Leaders need to be confident and bold to take risks that move away from the status quo just because that’s how things have always been done. Leaders must move away from the mentality of “follow me to greener pastures because I’ve done it and I’ve been there,” to “follow me into uncertainty, I don’t know the path but I have a vision of what we can create and together we will make it happen!”


We tend to put a lot of emphasis on technology, but a company can work without technology; it can’t work without people. The challenges of humanizing involve balancing humans with technology and ensuring your people are prepared to succeed in the future. We can’t forget that business still fundamentally operates and exists because of people. What we are seeing now with COVID-19 is a very clear example of that.

Leading Diverse Teams

Not everyone in the world looks and thinks the same, and your organization should reflect that. Diverse teams bring in new perspectives. Future leaders need to put together teams of people with different backgrounds, genders, races, sexual orientations, and belief systems to work together towards a common goal.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

People are an organization’s biggest asset, but many companies face the challenge of finding and keeping great employees. Instead of job candidates trying to convince organizations they are the best choice, now leaders and organizations must convince potential employees they are a great place to work.

“We’re moving from an era of lifetime employment to lifetime employee ability where if your people don’t feel that they learn and progress and they’re up to speed in their areas of expertise, they will leave you because they will become themselves obsolete.” – André Calantzopoulos, CEO, Philip Morris International

Reskilling and Upskilling Employees

How we work and the tools we have are changing rapidly, and many employees find themselves not having the right skills to do their jobs or thrive in the future. Leaders face the challenge of knowing how best to upskill employees and give them what they need for future success.

Doing Good

People want to be part of organizations that care about more than just making money. But in many cases, the leaders and shareholders are conditioned to think more about profits than doing good in the world. Future leaders need to make sure their work is improving the world and then share that message with others.

Making the Organization Human

With automation and a focus on efficiency, many organizations fall into the trap of focusing on results instead of people. Each individual matters, and future leaders need to understand their employees as people, not just cogs in the machine.

“A leader of the future will have to be astute enough to balance automation with the human touch. They have to decide what types of tasks to automate so that they can spend more time on high-value activities. But also decide which businesses will continue to benefit from human judgment.” – Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson, of Biocon

These challenges are widespread and require serious effort. Based on the survey I did with LinkedIn looking at 14,000 employees around the world, most leaders and organizations aren’t ready to face these challenges. The good news is that we still have time, but we need to start now to develop future-ready skills and mindsets.

You can purchase Jacob’s newest book here.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

 Jacob Morgan is a four-time bestselling author, keynote speaker, and futurist who explores leadership, employee experience, and the future of work. He is the founder of, an online education, and training platform that helps future-proof individuals and organizations by teaching them the skills they need to succeed in the future of work. Jacob also hosts the Future of Work podcast, a weekly show where he speaks with senior executives, business leaders, and bestselling authors about how the world of work is changing.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Well-Being: Creating Resilience in the Teams You Lead

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Well-Being: Creating Resilience in the Teams You Lead

Join me May 20/21, at 9am EST!

All organization’s strive to be more resilient as they move forward. They want resilient processes and operations but without resilient leaders and resilient employees, an organization will never get there. I talk with noted speaker, coach, instructor and consultant, Tammie Horton on how to create resilience within your teams. Tammie will describe the characteristics that can make a person more resilient, as well as describing how the brain functions in relation to resilient states of mind. COVID has put allot of stress on individuals, teams, and organizations, putting a strain on the well-being of many. Mental health and one’s own well-being is key to creating a resilient mindset, workplace, and team. Full of insightful information, this chat with Tammie is not to be missed if you want your teams and team members to be more resilient.


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Trend in the Garden for 2021

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Trend in the Garden for 2021

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right!” Oprah Winfrey

HELLOOOOOOO 2021! We have been holding our collective breaths for the past ten months desperately anticipating a new beginning with a new year. 

Are you feeling a renewed enthusiasm for living? Are you ready to dig in? 

Every year the Garden Media Group releases information on what trends are formulating for the next season of horticulture. 2021 has been dubbed “The Great Reset”, which is aptly titled given that we are still sheltering-in-place, connecting with loved ones and friends mostly online and by phone. The world is connected through this shared experience of a global pandemic as we impart information to help one another cope and prosper.

2020 was deemed the year where gardens, open spaces, and nature, in general, became a priority for maintaining wellness in body, mind, and spirit. Roomier homes with large backyards or acreage were in high demand as social distancing developed into the norm. Gardens became the bridge to building confidence and resilience while connecting communities and neighborhoods.

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In 2021, the great outdoors will become even more critical as classes of all creeds move outside. Expect to experience yoga, dance, workouts, art, cooking, entertainment, and activities for kids scheduled in outdoor spaces.  It is no longer necessary to be tethered to the high cost of living in big cities as working remotely allows employees to be closer to family and fresh air.

Research indicates that over 16 million people started gardening for the first time during the pandemic and many of them are under the age of 35. More than half of American adults are spending at least two additional hours outside today than before the outbreak started. In 2021, gardening will become a part of everyday life and will infiltrate school curriculums. Currently, 67% of adults are growing or plan to grow edibles. Berries are the most prevalent plus 52% of people are growing vegetables, 33% growing herbs, and 31% growing fruit. 

What’s trending up for 2021?

  •  Increased online sales of plants and garden products which offer convenience, speed, and safety.
  •  Parks, trails, and open spaces will become an integral part of daily life.
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  •  Interiorscaping will become a new buzzword as stores and businesses bring the outdoors in.
  •  Greater demand for houseplants for every room, especially home offices.
  •  Tropical plants will grace new “garden rooms” indoors.
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  •  Certified wildlife habitats and pollinator gardens are spreading.
  •  Educational courses, how-to-videos, and garden consultants will become routine learning tools.
  •  A surge in home cooking and the fear of food scarcity means growing one’s own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a necessity.
  •  Canning and preserving food for the future will be re-popularized.
  •  Children will be introduced at a younger age to the treasures of nature.
  •  Miniature plants to grow on windowsills, under grow lights, or under glass for those living in small apartments without yards will be more readily available.
  •  We will live with nature and protect our eco-systems to save lives.

The benefits of gardening are innumerable and will grow even more fashionable. Increased health, decreased stress, improved wellness, and stronger bodies through garden chores will lead to happier more balanced lifestyles. 

In 2021, we will embrace nature as part of our being. Nature is not something “out there” in the wilderness. Nature will thrive in our backyards, on rooftops, balconies, porches, and windowsills. Our very existence will depend on creating a sustainable balance between humans and all creation.

My hope is that we will all finally understand that there are no mistakes in the garden. Failure is fertilizer to grow anew. Just garden.

Happy New Year with revived cheer. Let’s get it right!

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Guide for January

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DETACH ornaments, lights, and tinsel from your Christmas trees and leave them on the curb on your garbage pick-up day. Flocked trees can be cut up and put in the green bins. 

BEWARE of wild boars on the rampage. Boars are causing major damage to landscapes and are a danger to people and pets. Fish and Game offers information. For local assistance with wildlife control including boars, coyotes, turkeys, deer, and more, contact licensed and insured Full Boar Depredation,  

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LOWER your anxiety with the Japanese practice of shrinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Take a walk in nature and you’ll immediately experience relaxation.

REMOVE wrapping from any holiday gifted plants to allow for drainage.

PRUNE deciduous fruit trees, bushes, flowering shrubs, and cane berries. Roses can be heavily pruned towards the end of the month.

SPRAY your second application of a dormant spray aimed to kill the many overwintering insects and diseases after you have pruned.

PICK a few sprigs of narcissus to perfume an entire room.

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PLANT all bare root fruit trees, perennials, berries, and vines.  They cost less and will adapt quickly to their new home.

ADD acanthus to your landscape for lush greenery and interesting spring floral spikes.

BUY healthy meal kits with farm-fresh ingredients from Sun Basket if you aren’t growing your own.

BUILD a river rock dry creek to direct run-off rainwater. 

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ORDER bare-root roses from your local nursery or find beautiful, fragrant cultivars at

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BRIGHTEN your winter landscape with sweet peas, society garlic, and guara (which looks like floating butterflies).

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CONTINUE wearing your mask, social distancing, and washing your hands. 

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Happy Gardening! Happy Growing! Cheers for 2021!

Read more and see photos: Read more and see photos:

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at

Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.


Cyber-Compromised Data Risk Management

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Cyber-Compromised Data Risk Management

Join me May 6/21 at 9am EST!

Ransomware! Cyber-Crime! Data Risk Management! These are the things that keep Senior Executives awake at night. Join me as I talk with internationally recognized cyber security expert, John Beattie. John will clarify Ransomware; what it is, how it impacts organizations, and how organizations can prepare – and respond to – cyber/Ransomware attacks. John will also clarify for us the difference between Data Recovery and Disaster Recovery, and how the two can actually work together. We’ll also clarify the differences between RPO and RTOs and how during Ransomware attacks, these are almost never met. I’ll be talking to John about the concept of MVDL, which is something many need to hear. A very important episode.


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Building Stronger Organizational Resilience

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Building Stronger Organizational Resilience

Join me April 29/21 at 9am EST!

In today’s environment organizations must become resilience, or they risk be passed over by potential partners, customers, and clients. Join me as I talk with a respected leader in the field of Organizational Resilience, Rick Cudworth. Rick will talk to us about Organizational Resilience, including how to establish a ‘Resilience Mindset’ and the knowledge of mindfulness, to help corporate leaders and their organizations, before and during, adverse situations. We’ll learn about the Resilience Lifecycle (Design, Change, Adversity), as well as outlining the 3 key pillars of Organizational Resilience. Rick will also give us some tips on how organization’s can help foster individual resilience, which aids in the development of organizational resilience. There’s allot of great information for those interested in resilience, so don’t miss it!

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Using Project Management in Disaster Management

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Using Project Management in Disaster Management

Join me April 15/21, at 9am EST!

Project Management is a skill set that is used in many situations, even when we don’t think it’s needed. Dr. Desiree Beekharry talk to us about how Project Management is used during times of Natural Disasters and how it’s various aspects are used to help with Disaster Management practices overall. We’ll discuss the similarities and differences between traditional Project Management approaches and Natural Disaster Management concepts, while identifying the challenges and complexities with both. Dr. Beekharry will also provide insight on how Disaster Management and Project Management professionals need to be Agile in their approach to responding to disasters and outlines some of the challenges that can be encountered.

Having promoted the benefits of Project Management skills for years in our Disaster/Business Continuity industry, I found Dr. Beekharry’s talk to be very educational.

Don’t miss it!

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Business Continuity: Cultural Change and Awareness

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Business Continuity: Cultural Change and Awareness

Join me April 8/21, 9am EST.  Each organization has its own culture and how it perceives Business Continuity, sometimes in a positive light and others no so. BCM industry expert Dwayne Grizzle will talk about his presentation from the BCI World Virtual 2020 conference entitled ‘Cultural Change and Awareness’. We’ll learn about the definition of Culture and how through change triggers and awareness measures, organizations can change their organization’s thinking, participation, and culture surrounding Business Continuity Management.


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Crisis Management with Stuart Hotchkiss

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Crisis Management with Stuart Hotchkiss

Join me March 18/21 at 9am EST!

Crisis Management isn’t always what you think it is and not everything that happens to your organization is a crisis. Join me, as I speak with recognized Crisis Management and Business Continuity expert and author, Stuart Hotchkiss. We’ll talk about what defines a crisis, the Crisis Management Team (CMT), and who should be part of the team and their roles and responsibilities. Stuart will also describe the Crisis Management policy and what it must – and must not – contain, along with a discussion on checklists, CMT testing, and the situation report. Stuart shakes off some of the preconceived notions of Crisis Management, so don’t miss this episode. ENJOY!

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Leading Sustainability: Look to the Future, Make Bold Choices and Don’t Go It Alone

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Leading Sustainability: Look to the Future, Make Bold Choices and Don’t Go It Alone

This blog is provided by Trista Bridges and Donald Eubank, co-founders of Read-the-Air and authors of a new book, “Leading Sustainability: The Path to Sustainable Business and How the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Changed Everything.”  It is a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading Sustainability: The Path to Sustainable Business and SDGs that aired on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021.  This article shares practical steps from their book to advance your business efforts to put sustainability at the core of your strategy.


The business world is at a fundamental crossroads. The age of the stakeholder is rapidly superseding that of the shareholder. More than just a buzzword, the idea of the stakeholder recognizes that companies have always existed as an inseparable part of the communities and business networks in which they operate, however vast and physically distant.

Contrary to what the shareholder model often implied, good business decisions have never really been driven purely by profit motives. It is becoming increasingly obvious that what is good for society—and thus, by definition, for the environment—is good for business.  This new embrace of responsibility does not preclude the design of efficient, lucrative business models. In fact, when done properly, precisely the opposite is true: socially responsible and sustainable business decision-making opens up brand new, exciting, profitable—and, in all its meanings, sustainable—revenue streams.

Today’s reckoning is not purely an altruistic choice made by businesses; new demands from various civil society organizations and the consensus-driven initiatives of the United Nations have been shepherding along the changes required to make business operations sustainable for years. With the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, these constituencies have outlined new expectations for not only how governments function, but also how businesses must function in a sustainable society.

The SDGs—more than 50 years in the making—provide a comprehensive framework for understanding all aspects of social, political, and business actions. They are powerful statements of human ambition for a fair, just and sustainable society. Many in the business and investing world today are calling them “A gift”, as the SDGs can provide us with a broader definition of sustainability and a framework to quickly and effectively guide businesses’ efforts to align their operations with the meaningful goals that society desires.

The successful businesses of tomorrow will be the ones that fully embrace sustainability today.

Almost two years ago, we set out to find and catalogue the practical steps that companies today must take to create the new sustainable business models they will need to survive in the year 2030. We interviewed more than 100 business leaders, investors, policy makers, NPOs, researchers and other changemakers, and researched a broad range of companies from across the world, of varying sizes and across multiple industries, that were taking practical steps to improve business practices and become more sustainable. Here’s some of the main takeaways that were collected for our new book “Leading Sustainably—The Path to Sustainable Business and How the SDGs Changed Everything.”

Our takeaways

  • Look to the future of your business—to achieve the best tomorrow, prepare today for the worst.
  • Make changes to your strategies based on the big picture, not on the small problems (unless they are warning you about dangers arising in the big picture).
  • The past created the world we live in today—its environmental crises and social unrest—but it also has been building the platform and the thinking that’s needed to move past these crises. That is, the SDGs, the Paris Agreement and a business world more focused on becoming sustainable for the long run.
  • The business case is already there—the whole business environment is pushing for more sustainable models, from consumers to investors, employees to competitors. Catch up, keep the pace, set the speed or get pushed out of the way.  And watch out, because a whole new generation of “mission-driven” companies have a head start already, having established themselves as fully aligned with society from the get-go. They are laser-focused on bringing fully sustainable innovations and business models to sectors that have struggled to do so on their own, and they are achieving remarkable societal and financial impact.
  • Don’t get confused by the Alphabet soup of methodologies for measuring and managing impact—choose what looks best for you, try them out, see if they fit, and whether do or don’t, adjust, retry, expand, until you figure out what works for your company. Get started today.
  • Capital managers, and even retail investors, believe that sustainability is the way forward, and they are going to talk to you about it. If you are aligned with them, they will provide you capital at a reasonable rate—if not, you will pay more or even be left empty-handed.
  • Be systematic. Understand the steps that you as a business have to proceed through to achieve a sustainable business model. Apply smart managerial and leadership strategies to move through these steps. Make bold decisions. Engage the whole organization. Communicate your directives and the reasons. Build an “A team”. Pursue a multi-stakeholder approach. Be flexible, make assessments and adjust. Work with your customers. Consider outside acquisitions. And leverage the SDGs.
  • You can’t do this alone. Bring your industry along for success and to ensure a fair playing field. Reach out to your industry associations, but also look to new partners, whether from civil society, international organizations, or cross industry. If a few key industries do this right—health and wellness, insurance, fashion, real estate, and tourism—we’ll all be in a better, more sustainable, place.

Before we close, two points bear repeating: For success leverage the SDGs— recognize their power to help and guide the organization and your teams; and be systematic to align your business planning and operations with sustainability principles.

Plus, remember this final, key piece to getting it done: You must bridge the knowledge gap—provide your teams with as many opportunities as possible to learn what they need to know to make sustainability-driven business decisions.


See more details about the important lessons from companies—in a range of industries—on how to achieve sustainability in our new book “Leading Sustainably”, available now from Routledge and Amazon.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


About the Authors

Trista Bridges is a strategy and marketing expert with extensive experience across various geographies and sectors including consumer products, financial services, technology, and healthcare.

Donald Eubank is an experienced manager who has worked across the IT, finance, and media industries in Asia.

They advise businesses on sustainability and are co-founders of Read the Air, a coalition of strategy and operations professionals, and co-authors of “Leading Sustainably—The Path to Sustainable Business and How the SDGs Changed Everything” (Routledge).


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


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Join me March 4/21 at 9am EST! Show Logo w Microphone.jpg

‘Gloom to Bloom’: How Leaders Transform Risk into Resilience and Value’ is the latest book by Andrea Bonime-Blanc (Routledge, 2020). I chat with noted global risk, ethics and governance strategist, and author, Andrea Bonime-Blanc about some of the key megatrends that are affecting today’s business world, including the trend to increase the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the considerations related to it. We’ll also talk about how categorizing risks using ESG&T considerations (environment, societal, governance, technology) can assist organizations in creating opportunities from risk to create a stronger sense of resilience – and value. Finally, Andrea will discuss the role of leadership and how they can transform risk ESG&T risk into resilience and value for clients, customers, partners, suppliers, and employees.

Don’t miss it!

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