by Gary Knight

Greetings lovely people.
I trust your days have been filled with much peace & joy.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of ‘Elite Teams’, how they are built, how they continue to thrive no matter what the competition/market throws at them. The nature of their psychological traits as well as their intellectual & physical bones. There are tons of examples of how we can learn from the ‘best in breed’, often looking beyond our own business areas & studying how others excel:
> Formula 1 tyre change teams who learnt to be amongst those elite forces by examining how Heart Surgeons, & their highly skilled support teams, save lives in time critical situations whilst operating in the most confined space conditions imaginable.
> NASA Rocket engineers who turned to the SAS to understand that it is critical to take ‘as few people on the mission as possible’ to reach the dizzy heights of the Elite zones.
My quest to understand the dynamics of this higher state has stayed with me across the decades & the other week my interest in this subject was fully rekindled.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to Kathleen Saxton’s Lighthouse company event. Her annual ‘Shipping Forecast’ not only allows us a deep insight into how the Media/Advertising/Brand industry is feeling about itself but also provides us with the views of some fascinating & diverse speakers. Present were a rich, hybrid mix of a Neurosurgeon, Poet, MP, Diversity Campaigners, Future Strategists, Amazon & a certain Sir Martin Sorrell.
I was enchanted by many of the speaker’s words as they echoed lots of the issues I have raised in these blogs before, i.e. Short-Term paranoia, lack of robust Leadership, Creativity being the most critical element in future success & the rise of automation.
So, without sparring any blushes to Kathleen, I wanted to focus on that splendid evening & in particular, her eloquent descriptions of the Leadership species currently amongst us: The Exotic, the Extinct & the Evolved.
But first let’s examine how our business felt about itself?

> 54% of respondents would consider moving company
> 39% have thought about leaving the industry
> 25% have a fear of redundancy.

These figures look scary, particularly when you have the paradox of most people stating they ‘quite like their current job/company’.

There is a distinct concern that many people believe they are either on the verge of being Extinct or already have gone the way of the Dodo. With many experts predicting that up to 60% of all industries foresee 30% of all jobs being automated, then it is small wonder that this ‘dark future vision’ is grabbing hold of us.
In the field of Leadership one can already witness how the soon to be Extinct species are barely hanging on to their roles. Refusing to change direction, accept a new order of consumer & ignore the pace of technological development. Sadly, our High Streets bear testament to the abundance of these beasts still amongst us.

Beyond the fields of Extinction, where else can we look for inspiration & salvation?
Kathleen introduced two more species who offer us hope at the Gates of Mordor, the Exotic & the Evolved.
The Exotic are a new breed of talents, often not fitting into the norm of corporate structures, difficult to keep in captivity & often seen as a risk-hire. However, they are increasingly being viewed as an unavoidable investment for businesses dedicated to truly revolutionise, invent & progress. They can offer the antidote to the Triple A Threat of Analytics, Architecture & Artificial Intelligence. They approach business solutions & opportunities from a fourth dimensional perspective. They may not fit into a nice, neat box, but boy do we need them. Forget about trying to train people up into these magical realms, as their gifts are borne rather than bred.
So, if you come across any of these rare people, then I would advise you to hang out with them & hope that some of their mystical life force rubs off on you!
Finally, we have the most desired of all the species, the Evolved Leader. They possess old world integrity & skills but have successfully migrated across into the new lands. Many of these individuals have smelt the technological ‘winds of war’ & decided to act. Often sharpening new skills off of their own backs & sticking close to the young guns who entered the gladiatorial arena when the FAANG crowd came to town. For them the ‘old’ really can learn career prolonging tricks from the ‘new’. They move fluently across the chambers of Tech, Data, Geographical Consumer Shift, the metamorphosis of Retail & the whole manner in which Brands will need to navigate across tomorrow’s oceans. They have no fear of venturing into the unknown nor acting as ‘naive experts’ in fields they, as yet, have sparse knowledge.
So, who are this elite species? Well, as one would expect, they are rare, maybe only 10 > 15% of current Leaders achieve this status, even though (in a recent survey) some 74% claimed they feel they belong to this most exclusive of clubs. They are the most desired of all the species that roam the Business ecosystem & are increasingly sought out, Lara Croft style, but the top Headhunting firms. If you are already a Leader, then I would advise you to join their ranks as soon as you can, or else the threat of extinction looms across those far pavilions. Get off your butt, learn the new skills & accept them as a vital part of your DNA moving forward. Don’t ever forget when Leaders stop learning then the forests of doom will really descend upon us.
As for those wondrous speakers on that immersive evening, then just a few snippets of their own manifestos:

> A.I has its ‘ying & yang side’. For our Neurosurgeon, it has enabled him to build operating equipment that it far more effective in the micro-delicate world of brain surgery. But Amazon warned us that A.I tools are being developed to both track & then tap into our emotional need states. Thus, potentially selling us stuff when we are ‘vulnerable’. Shades of the current gambling addiction debate here.

> The journey to diversity harmony has really only just begun, with those people suffering from disabilities still being discriminated against or even ignored, particularly in the workforce. The rally cry here was that Big Business has a massive role in shaping a fairer future for these people & we cannot just keep laying the blame at Government’s doorsteps.

> Data inevitable had its moment, but our Media guru believed that we are beginning to lose the plot on how to effectively collect & utilise data. There has to be a smarter way.

> Creativity also featured highly (hoorah!) with a viewpoint that, in the world of marketing, it would increasingly be the single biggest differentiator. This was further backed up by Andria Zafirakou, officially the ‘Best Teacher in the World’, who is going to invest all of her £1 million prize into community arts projects in schools, as she passionately believes that the arts are being abandoned by the educational system & that the arts remain crucial to our human well-being.

> Finally, it took a poet to remind us that Love remains the most powerful force in the universe, particularly the love of a mother.

At this juncture I just wanted to add that Kathleen did not ask me/persuade me to write this blog, honestly put I was totally enthralled by the evening. I am sure if you wish to contact her, then she would be more than happy to expand upon her ‘Shipping Forecast’ report.

It’s almost time to get my Yoga mat out & head off to a Jivamukti class, but before I go I just wanted to let you know that a future blog will be dedicated to the subject of Elite Teams, so please look out for this.
Finally, one of the common denominators of all those Elite teams that I studied was this: They are all well led…
Which nicely returns us to the Evolved Leader


Gary x

Gary Knight
About Gary Knight
The Evolved Leader is the most desired of all the species