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Lessons from Pandemic & Leadership of the Future — Dr. Leung Wing Tai

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

The global pandemic of virus outbreak has changed the world. In what ways it changes the world? What can we learn from this pandemic? What are the implications for future of leadership? Some opinion leaders inferred that de-globalization would result and nations would seek self-sufficiency, and decouple from each other. The economy would go downturn and we would be getting poorer. There would be a shift in power from the West to the East.

As for me, I think there will be two major changes: Change in TIME and change in SPACE.

TIME will no longer be chronological, predictable, linear progressive, and extrapolative. We cannot predict future viruses from SARS. We cannot predict the pattern of behavior of economic downturns from the Depression Days. Everything in the future will be unprecedented. There will be wave after wave of disruptive changes, quantum changes, discrete changes, abrupt changes, that we have not seen. Changes will be radical to the root, fundamental to transform all systems, and without a trajectory to predict. Time will be fluid, transient, dynamic, in motion, doing, becoming, interactive and unpredictable. That will be the change in TIME.

As for SPACE, the world will be more integrative. Any thing that happens in one part of the world is like 'butterfly effect' that will have changes incur in the entire Planet. Globalization is a fact and not an option or preference. We are integrative with animals, plants, materials, other human beings and everything else. Cutting off to be self-protective and alienated would not be an option. What are the qualities of future leadership?

1. Leadership of Contingency: ability to deal with the unprecedented, the unknown, abrupt, disruptive, fluid, flowing, unimaginable, adhocratic and contingent. Be able to handle fuzzy logic, ambiguity, paradoxes, conflicts, the amorphic, morphing, and the in-betweens.

2. Leadership of Unity in Diversity: Be able to avoid either total dependence or total independence with each other. Rather is a leadership to seek interdependence. A new paradigm is needed to collaborate in a highly integrative world. How to retain one's culture and root and yet partner with strangers or the enemy?

3. Leadership with Worldview: Embrace changes through forming one's Worldview, Value System, and Principles. To face changes one needs an anchor, something immutable. The primary values could be non-negotiable. What are the primary values? Would they be intense love for human lives, human dignity, community living, art and culture, compassion for animals, plants, and materials, and the fear of God the Creator?

4. Leadership of Compassion: In changes there will be the poor and the weak. Many people cannot handle changes and would be left behind. We need to care for the needy.

5. Leadership of Responsibility: In times of change and suffering, it is very easy for us to single out certain country, people, or individuals as scapegoats and purge the enemy, straw-man, or public foe. To create another Cold War. This will not solve the problem. We need deeper level of collaboration instead.

6. Leadership of Future Vision: During days of crisis, it is very easy for us to be nostalgic and deem that the changes will only be temporary and it will return to normal in no time. This is anachronistic. But the fact is that everything will change. We cannot linger too much on the past but to envision the future. Risk management assumes a static society with a few inserts of risks. But tomorrow everyday is risk management. Change, radical changes, will become a norm.

7. Leadership with Simple Lifestyle: We need to scale down our consuming, extravagant and high mobility lifestyle. Instead of consuming and marketing, we need to be more selective in our activities, mobility, consumption, ambition, and material gains. We can live more creatively and in tune with Mother Earth and our Creator God.

8. Leadership with a Long-View: We need a long view of human and social development. Historical, contemporary, futuristic and other macro views will be needed. We need to see intergenerational future. We need to avoid focusing on quarterly changes, incremental changes, short-time gains, problem solving and tactical methods. We need structural views, deep-structure thinking. We need paradigm shifts all the time.

That's my two cents. Thank you.

Dr. Wing Tai Leung


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