Challenges of Future Leaders – F-mod


Challenges of Future Leaders

All our celebrations today are products of the actions of past heroes and thinkers. The greatest country in the world was built by a group of men who believed they were crazy enough to move their ideas from one point to another. Throughout the history of the world, a few people have managed despite undaunted challenges to rise above the curse of mediocrity.Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks and Abraham Lincoln of this world are still relevant today because they chose to stick out their neck for a better good. We in this generation have coined out a term for these kind of people ‘’LEADERS’’

A lot has been put in place to bring us to the state we are now; sweat, blood, toils, protests and war. Therefore we can precisely say that for every generation there arises the need for a new solution. One of the vital ways to solve challenges is through creativity; therefore we must say here that at the very base of leadership lies the fuel of creativity. Creativity in leadership is a basic requirement in the need to do something new, lift and set sights on horizons beyond our immediate grasp and also solve trying questions to which we do not have ready-made answers.

The most begging question in the lips of all those who want genuine solutions to the African crisis is ‘’why is there an absence of good leaders’’. Leadership is clearly needed for problems that do not have a ‘’walk in the park’’ kind of answers. The challenges and obstacles of the 21st century are complex and sometimes there is no management handbook that has once and for all solutions.


Leadership challenges and Nature

There are three basic forms of challenges 21ST century leaders face

1)      Undefined challenges

2)      Novel challenges

3)      Ambiguous challenges

Undefined Challenges

Imagine you are sitting right in an examination hall, and you are told just before you pick up your pen that the exam is going to be an open-book examination. Imagine all the excitement that comes with knowing you can bring all your textbooks into the examination hall, or the anxiety that comes with the fact that you can access the internet in solving those seemingly tough questions.

What you would quickly discover is that in such conditions, emphasis is never on stored knowledge but on deduced knowledge, you’ll discover that most times the answers do not stare at you in the books, but they are there if you are able to think through and decipher a clear path on how to tackle the problem at hand.

In this kind of challenge,

* There’s no clear pointer that this is exactly a way out or this is exactly the problem.

*  At the initial stage of the kind of challenge there’s no right or wrong answer,

*  Emphasis is always on context rather than text and that’s where a lot of leaders miss it.

*  Have you been in a situation where you don’t know what exactly is the problem, but you just know something is wrong? That’s an undefined challenge and most times the question is the answer.

*  It’s a kind of problem you can’t pin down immediately


Novel Challenges

This is one major leadership challenge that every great leader has to face and overcome. It’s been said that ‘’one man with courage makes a majority’’, I can’t agree anymore. True leaders always find a way to solve problems even though they have never encountered challenges of such nature. They are not afraid to try something new neither are they afraid to to abandon safety and run the risk of leadership decisions.

In this kind of leadership challenge

*  The leaders’ exposure might not just be enough to meander through the crises

*  It’s often quite difficult to use the skills and knowledge of old to solve the issues at stake

*  Solving this kind of challenge requires and emphasises on the need to wear the cap of adaptive and divergent thinking. Intuitive thinking is preferred to residual thinking



Ambiguous Challenges

In this kind of leadership challenge, the leader is faced with an avalanche of problems to solve, but the key to solving all is by solving one. One strike does it, but the challenge for the leader is to figure out that very one. This kind of challenge demands the most from the leader, it’s sort of an open ended challenge and only creative leaders can truly solve such problems. It’s like puzzle challenge where one idea can turn the whole situation.

Having analyzed the nature of leadership challenges, we must also endeavor to understand the basic attributes leaders would have to embrace to truly be a 21st century.

They are;

* Uniqueness

* Risk taking

*  Community Building

*  Trustworthiness



The most ignored and unused skill of the 21st century is the skill of being different. The future leader must strive to be different from the pack, it’s been said that there’s a great number of people outside the door of proficiency.

Leaders of the 21st century have to recognise that on the voyage of change only the unique leaders would sail through to the shores of excellence. If we are to change our society, we must sleep in the inn of uniqueness. In being different, we see past the status quo and set sights on the mountain top of progress.

Risk Taking

As we grow up over the years, we are taught not to take risks, to stay within a limiting set of beliefs and values. We are scared of leaving our safe house forgetting that you can do everything with a blade except from sitting on it.

As leaders, we must learn to stick our neck just like Rosa Parks did in USA. The future leader exercises himself in the achievement of  an uncharted course. The future leader transcends the boundaries of his imaginations.

The future leader knows what he wants to achieve, but though he doesn’t know how to go about it, he starts anyways.


One of the greatest questions that would be asked of all future leaders is the basic question ‘’Can I trust you’’. It’s an old cliché that trust is earned and right now it costs a lot to be trustworthy but it is vital and essential in the development of a nation or personal life.

Trust in the 21st century is a scarce and risky virtue but a necessary tool for all leaders. The truth is trust must be earned and the process of that earning requires time.


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