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Why the evolution of creative leaders really matters (Part 1)

  • Published: Feb 13, 2014 00:38
  • Writer: Detlef Reis | 1 viewed

The need to develop creative leaders is one of the most important emerging trends in business. A few weeks ago, I completed a new book on creative leadership development that will hit the international market by the end of this year. It introduces a proprietary creative leadership development method named Genius Journey, which I have developed for and market commercially through my innovation company Thinkergy (

In the book I share with readers a powerful framework and related exercise toolkit that can reconnect them with their inner genius, and can transform efficient, numbers-oriented managers and executives into authentic creative business leaders.

Why did I do it? Why did I create a method and write a book and workbook? Why share 88 exercises with a very wide readership, instead of limiting this powerful know-how to a small group of privileged senior executives to whom I could charge a lot of money?

The need for creative leadership: I believe that mankind is at a critical crossroads where we need to evolve to a new level of thinking. We need to switch the dominant paradigm that we use to run this world from a competitive, ego-driven world of scarcity to a cooperative, self-driven world of abundance. We need to move to a higher level of consciousness to creatively and ethically address some fundamental challenges that we face as a species now and in future. These are:

The sustainability challenge: How do we deal with the fact that we consume 1.6 times the resources that our planet can naturally redistribute, at the cost of future generations and other species? How to change the greed for more resources against the prediction that by 2030, we will need a second Earth to satisfy our greed for more resources, and by 2050, we even needed a third planet if nothing changes?

How do we start consuming and sharing the available resources fairly and sustainably? How do we create win-win-win-win-win solutions where I win, you win, everyone wins, the environment wins, and future generations win?

The financial system challenge: What if the global financial system collapsed? Well, it nearly did in 2008, and not much has changed since, nor is it likely to do so in future. How do we respond to the challenge that the global financial system has become so vast, fast and complex that it cannot be controlled anymore by regulators and supervisory institutions? Where no one really can accurately understand, model and contain the latent risks given the vast number of interdependent variables?

How do we deal with the rising debt mountain that many governments, companies and private households continue to accumulate, with decreasing likelihood of ever being able to service and fully repay it? How do we stop or contain the aftermath of a likely collapse of the global financial system and the world economy?

The labour challenge: How do we distribute and compensate work fairly and mindfully in a world where more and more jobs are automated? Where many people lose their work to computers, machines and robots while others are forced to work more hours and be available 24/7? Where many young graduates can’t find work while many older employees are asked to work more years before being able to retire?

The ageing population challenge: How do we respond to the challenges of ageing societies? Where in many countries, close to 40% of the population will be older than 65 years in 20 to 30 years from now? Where elderly people who don’t want to — but often will be — living in poverty and want to be — but often won’t be — well cared for by the rest of society?

The climate change challenge: How do we respond to the challenges imposed by climate change that affect our lives and business? How to respond to the rising occurrence of increasingly extreme weather phenomena, such as super-hurricanes and typhoons, floods and droughts, among others? How to respond to predictions of many scientists that large land masses and even entire countries might be lost to rising sea levels?

The singularity challenge: What if mankind were not on top of evolutionary pyramid? What if intelligent robots and supercomputers overtook humans as most advanced species? Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil predict that by 2100, this may well happen. Some experts think that technological singularity — the point at which artificial smarts can match, and then overtake, human intelligence — might even happen within the next two decades.

“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots,” noted the philosopher Erich Fromm. And if you see how many people have become zombified and go through their daily lives enslaved by the virtual worlds of their mobile devices, we may even be on a self-destructive path to become both slaves and robots in one.

Interim conclusion: Clearly, mankind has to resolve a long list of important challenges in the coming decades — and the above list is by no means complete. Ask yourself: What other major challenges that fundamentally affect the well-being of most species are missing on my list and should be added? In two weeks we will discuss why I believe that creative leadership is one of the answers to help mankind rise to the occasion.

Dr Detlef Reis is the founding director and chief ideator of Thinkergy Ltd (, an ideation and innovation company in Asia, and lectures in business creativity and innovation leadership at Mahidol University's College of Management ( He can be reached at