Henry the Fifth, as characterized by William Shakespeare, is the quintessential heroic leader – bold, manly, inspiring, strong, passionate, ready to bravely battle against all odds, ready to lead all of those that believe — heart and soul – in what he proclaims to be right and true. Phew. That sort of leader is great in movies (and plays), but is not fit for purpose in the boardrooms, meeting rooms, or classrooms of the 21st century.
What challenges do leaders of the 21st face that their predecessor didn’t? In times past, leaders led by controlling flows information, communication, and resources and relied on their world being analysable and predictable. In the 21st century, ordinary people, like you and I, have the capacity to share information with millions (perhaps billions) of people all over the world in real time using a mobile phone or laptop. In the 21st century, words like driest/wettest/coldest/earliest have become the norm in the weather forecast. In the 21st century, too-big-to-fail companies can, and do, and will continue to fail. In the 21st century, a person with a good idea can raise millions of dollars in days after banks and investors said the idea wasn’t good enough.
Like Henry V, leaders of the 21st century need to be bold, inspiring, and passionate. They also need to be ready to bravely lead — not into battle, but into a world that is volatile, unpredictable, and ultra-high speed. Unlike Henry V, leaders of the 21st century cannot rely on controls, heroics, or expecting/demanding others to simply follow. They will need new leadership models borne from deep self-knowledge, integrity, values, and vision; they need new communication skills borne from empathy and empowerment; and they need to create organizational systems that foster creativity, agility, and collaboration.
If they can’t rely on heroes of the past, where do our future leaders learn how to lead? You start with your own heart and head and then explore the growing body of emerging thoughts and experience. BCI has used our concept of Natural Leadership as the basis for creating a new course called Creative Leadership, now offered by as part of MCAD’s 100% online Master Program in Sustainable Design.