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Leaders of the future

Times are changing and so is business. In the next ten to twenty years we will not be working the same way as we do today. The question is: How will future leaders do business differently?

Nikki Cockcroft


According to the Business Dictionary, leadership is defined as “having the ability to establish a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, providing the information, knowledge and methods to realise a vision,  and coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders.” It also says that a leader will step up in a crisis, and think and act creatively in difficult situations.

Leaders need to be able to adapt to changes. Credit: Rawpixel, Unsplash
Credit: Rawpixel, Unsplash

Today, many executives do not  have the resources required to succeed in a changing world. Many jobs and industries will probably be taken over by increasingly capable artificial intelligence (A.I), which means that we could be facing a future without accountants, lawyers, surgeons and cashiers.


Red & Yellow Creative School of Business has been teaching the most essential skills for the 21st Century since 1994,  and they have produced creative thinkers who became business and industry leaders. According to CEO Nikki Cockcroft, and chairman Rob Stokes, the skills required to become a CEO in the next decade include charismatic leadership, strategic decision making, rapport- building skills in negotiation, self-awareness and adaptability in personal development. Curiosity and courage are also important characteristics and the experience and guidance of mentors, while leaning on your team and stakeholders for support, is crucial.

Red & Yellow Cape Town Campus

Stokes believes that by 2030 not much will have changed. In fact, he thinks that these skills will only grow in importance as management becomes automated and the uniquely human skill of leadership is made more valuable. Nikki Cockcroft agrees and says that the method of doing things, as with technological advancements like AI, will result in different skill requirements and leadership styles.

Artificial Intelligence. Credit:

Some of the biggest challenges facing business leaders today include motivating and managing people, geopolitical uncertainty, high-speed adaptability, finding creative solutions under time and financial pressure, conflict resolution and finding and keeping skilled resources.


According to Stokes, the key role of a CEO is to define the vision of a company, to communicate it and to make sure that the people and processes are in place to fulfil  the vision. Making sure the people have the right skills in place to achieve this, is non-negotiable. Cockcroft adds that a changing customer base means that teams need to be able to keep up with changes.

Rob Stokes

Stokes says that there are certain skills that simply can’t be replaced by AI:  uniquely human qualities like leadership, negotiation and social intelligence will become even more important in business. “It is the creative problem solvers who are likely to thrive in the future.”


Creativity and managerial skills are still vital and will always be necessary in the running of business. This translates to inspiration, mentorship and a global political and economic view to gain the necessary perspective to move with the changing times.


Written by: Renate Engelbrecht


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