Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Leader of the Future = EQ + Technology

How-to-Become-a-Better-Leader-730x493I have just returned from two weeks of working with clients in New Zealand and while I was there I was asked to give lectures at the University of Auckland and the University of Canterbury. The topic they asked me to address was, “Leading in a Time of Disruptive Change.” This is a topic I know pretty well, but I decided it would be nice to get some additional opinions to add more depth and credibility to my comments, so I sent a note asking for input to some of my friends including Marshall Goldsmith, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Tim Sanders, Jim Kouzes, Tom Morris, Joe Calloway and several other top thought leaders, asking what they would share around this topic.

Everything they offered revolved around two key ideas: EQ + Technology


EQ = Emotional Quotient

The next 10 years will mark one of the most explosive eras of technological advances in the history of humankind. It is hard to believe that the smart phone was invented just 10 years ago and in that time span people around the world have downloaded more than 2 billion apps. Connection by computers is increasing at a dizzying rate, whereas connection between people seems to be decreasing at an equally alarming rate. A successful leader of the future must be superb at collaboration, personal connection, empathy and interpersonal communications. They need to be effective at bringing people together, creating high-performance teams, developing deep levels of trust and building real relationships with the people they lead. For some people EQ comes naturally, they are great at working well with other people and showing genuine concern, caring and empathy. For others of us (me included) EQ is just not something we were born with, however, through study and practice I have been able to increase my level of EQ significantly and so can you. Either way, natural or learned, the skills necessary to display EQ are essential for tomorrow’s leaders.


I mentioned it briefly above, but it bears repeating, in the next 10 years we will go through a truly overwhelming influx of new technologies that will be highly disruptive to every business (and person) in the world. That might sound like hyperbole, but I assure you it is not. Last year I attended the Abundance 360 Conference (an offshoot of Singularity University) where some of the world’s top technology experts outlined the eight major areas of technological change that would have the most impact on the human race in the next decade.

  1. Computer speed / deep learning
  2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
  3. The Internet of Things (IOT)
  4. Advanced robotics
  5. Augmented reality
  6. Virtual reality
  7. Synthetic medicine
  8. Genetic decoding/recovery

As just one example, the director of the business school at the University of Canterbury explained that in 2026 you will be able to buy a laptop for $1,000 that surpasses the brainpower of a single human, and by 2046 you will be able to buy a laptop (if they even exist anymore) that will exceed the brainpower of the entire human race. When you apply this computing power to the areas I have listed above, the impact is literally unfathomable. Therefore, to be effective, future leaders don’t need to embrace change, or even revel in change, they need to DRIVE change. They will need to be visionary in their ability to predict how these seismic technological shifts will impact their industry, their individual businesses and their customers. As another example, a good friend of mine who is the president of a prominent university here in the US lamented to me, “We are training students today for jobs that don’t exist on equipment that has not yet been invented, which means we are going to have to completely change the way we educate our youth.” Now if that isn’t a disruption, I don’t know what is – and the same thing is going to happen to you.

Leader of the Future = EQ + Technology

What do you think?


*** Also, I am very pleased to announce that my blog has been named one of the Top Small Business Blogs to Follow in 2016.
To check out the other winners and their superb blogs click HERE

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  1. Duncan Cameron says:

    I have been in the business communications field (telephones, computers, security) for over thirty years. I am about to modify somewhat, my focus going forward. Do you believe that there is enough ‘meat’ on the IOT technologies to earn some of my living in this area? Your email just came to me, so I thought that I would pose the question to you. Thank you.

    • Duncan, there is no doubt that IOT technology is going to impact a wide array of businesses in the future. However, it seems that adoption rates are rather slow right now and many of the consumer applications are not robust enough to garner a significant amount of traction. I believe, my opinion only, that over the next five years we are going to see some significant growth in IOT – but I would not put all of my eggs in that basket just yet, I would watch the trends very closely and try to anticipate a higher adoption rate, so that you can get in at exactly the right time. Thanks so much for the question, and for reading my blog — John

  2. Change: John I listened to a sales “manager” just present. He’s new to the company and just getting to know his team of sales reps. He went on to tell the senior exec, that probably 70% of his sales team didn’t have the skills needed to drive success. The initial response from the exec was, “then change them out”. But later in the day that wise executive said mediocre companies change out all their people, and the problems persist even after all the people are changed out. He challenged the leaders to really think about the underlying problems. I now trust this senior executive, and I’ll follow him through hell and back.

    in my industry it seems like our Japanese team is always about 2-3 years ahead of the rest of the world in thought leadership. Could it be due to their culture that people are not disposable, that they instead invest the time to solve the underlying problems? Japan is an island of few natural resources. People are their resource.

    If 70% of the team is inept, were they offered the edu needed to be successful. Were they led to develop and motivated to embrace change. Thanks for leading pushing the topic of change. When we look at many of the list of 8 above, I also find it interesting that some of the least formally educated, are often the most competent in the areas of new technology. I’m not dismissing the importance or value of academic education, but this must also be coupled with “do” There’s a real need for experiential or on the job training. It’s also important to have exposure to the technology. If you give a 20 year from the ghetto a brand new smart device, rest assured they will figure it out in no time, and master it’s use. They do it by playing with it, experimenting and doing. It’s hard to learn how to drive by reading that fine manual. Then take the individual and put them in the military, and regardless of race, creed or religion, they can become a master of any complex weapons system, or communication device, or supersonic jet. We must all keep this in mind in light of recent news events, and campaigning. Whether it be JFK or MLK, leadership and all lives matter.

  3. EDDIE SCOTT says:

    I have been really studying this concept for a year and absolutely believe it. My trouble is getting various employees to come to terms with the magnitude of the changes.
    How do you encourage younger employees go get the idea?

    • I would suggest two things, send them links to great articles and blogs on these topics, and open up discussions where you and other people on your team can have a candid conversation around the impact of technology and the importance of EQ. In other words – study it and get it out on the table so you can plan for how to successfully navigate this change.

  4. Hello John
    I have been studying transportation industry, sales, and business blogs for the past year. I’m 60 years old and exploring starting a business. Learning the ropes excites me. Selling my service excites me in a scary way. My EQ and life skills are not to be snubbed, but… I am far behind the planet with Tech. I have never been a natural at it, there is no passion for it, and it does not naturally “stick”. The concept/future of IOT however fascinates me. I think in terms of -change must be positive for humans and Earth. I guess I’m just sharing my greatest frustration, stumbling block. All blogs lead to Tech. It’s is so huge that I wonder how I will have the vision to see, then move forward without a chip in my head/heart. Must I dream in code to play? Maybe I am not alone.