Future Fit # 9: On becoming an adaptive leader: Making sense of ‘normal’

TomorrowToday has promised to help you start the journey towards being future fit – to becoming an adaptive leader. Being merely a ‘good leader’ will not suffice when it comes to meeting the challenge of the future. You will need to be a great leader and a ‘great leader’ is someone who understanding and practices adaptive leadership. This is part of a ‘boot camp’ through which we help you begin the journey of becoming future fit; we help you in the process of becoming an adaptive leader. Each ‘session’ is designed around a thought-bullet (Head) and an action point (Hand) – something to think about and something to try out. We have promised to keep the ‘head’ part to under a minute and the practical part (hand)…well, that is up to you.

ladders into the skyFuture Fit # 9:  Making sense of ‘normal’

Douglas Adams once said, “When you’re born, anything in the world is normal. Anything invented before you’re 35 is revolutionary. Anything invented after you’re 35 is unnatural and wrong.” Keeping pace with change is tough. Change can be technological, institutional, demographical, environmental and a shift in societal values. These five ‘disruptions are what we in TomorrowToday call, the ‘TIDES of change’ and we have an entire framework around how to anticipate and deal with these ‘TIDES’. However, the challenge inherent in change is that we fall into the trap of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ all too quickly. We tend to label the familiar, ‘normal’ and anything new as, ‘abnormal’. It is this default setting that then gets us into trouble in our conversations, thinking and practices. It is easy to see this being played out within our business environments – especially when it comes to generational differences. Adaptive leaders intentionally identify and understand ‘their normal’ in order to avoid this trap. There is a difference between ‘normal’ and ‘my normal’ and the acknowledgement of ‘my normal’ fundamentally changes the conversation. It is a simple but important distinction to make. Understanding ‘your normal’ will allow you to engage the ‘new normal’ without being threatened and without guarding things that really should be discarded.

Initiate a discussion within your team around the Adams quote and discuss the changing work environment from the context of ‘normal’. Don’t dwell too much on the past (although this will be where the conversations starts) but use the discussion to leverage the future and what the ‘new normal’ (in your context) looks like. How big a gap is there between this new and emerging normal and your current thinking and behavior? It could be a very important and strategic conversation to be having and one that helps individuals engage with change from a very personal point of view. Best you do some of this thinking and work beforehand.

Index of Adaptive Leader series
Click here to see the full list of the Future Fit ‘sessions’


  1. So you want to become a great leader? | TomorrowToday - December 12, 2013

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