The world is at a historic crossroads and the direction we take can be sustainable or detrimental. Opportunity leaders choose the sustainable path and inspire others to follow. To them the Sustainable Development Goals is the new global job description applicable to everyone everywhere. Their stories offer unique accounts of leadership that transforms the world. Every day they use business to turn global risks into progress on the path to the Sustainable Development Goals.
What opportunity leaders accomplish is truly inspirational.
On the recently finished opportunity tour on four continents inspirational thinkers turned five global risks into opportunities. These will form the heart of the next Global Opportunity Report to be published early 2016. But we don’t stop at the opportunities. We also want to find the people behind them, who are the new entrepreneurs of your time.
You can help us in the search for the people who change the world on an everyday basis. You may know that person, or you may be that person yourself. All you have to look for is a person who has turned a risk into an opportunity. But the opportunity tour around the world also pointed to four characteristics of an opportunity leader to inspire the search. Read them here:
If you are stupid enough to think you can change the world, you are one of those people who actually end up doing exactly that. Many people, as creature of habit, tend to find comfort and a sense of security in repetitive behavior. We spend half our time awake, repeating the same actions or thoughts without thinking. We get stuck in habits and routines rather than trying to do things differently.
This is what Nobel Prize winner Daniel Khaneman calls the two systems of thinking, the automatic and the deliberate. The automatic serves many functions and makes life easier, for instance it reminds us to look before passing a road. We do that automatically. Life would be complicated if passing the road would require that we deliberately think about the traffic, identifying the best options for crossing the road and weighing these against one another. The autopilot of the brain is great in many aspects of life – but it is also one reason why change is so difficult.
An opportunity leader is a disruptor of comfortable habits in organizations and business following a passion rather than trying to fit in.
You can’t ask people to trust the future because they have real needs right now. The future is abstract, now is concrete. The future is something most people put off thinking about for later, for tomorrow or for the day after. But opportunity leaders are curious about what the future holds and how they can contribute to shaping what is to come. They take charge and change the course of history.
Taking charge of the future sounds like a line from a sci-fi movie, but it is not. Opportunity Leaders have skills allowing them to do so. For one they are system thinkers, which is the ability to see both the tree and the forest. They understand how their own actions affect the entire system whereby putting their own actions into a crystal ball of future analysis. For business the starting point is how activities can contribute to systemic changes which in turn will help shape the future.
You can learn to be a system thinker. And it is even proven that they have more fun! That system thinkers watch less TV, they read more and they have more interesting conversations over lunch.
Is a walker (and a talker)
A participant at the opportunity panel in Sao Paulo said: “Opportunity leadership is less blablabla but more transformative action.” Opportunity leaders do not sit around waiting for the world to change rather they spot opportunities and then go for it. Opportunity leadership is inspired action because it inspires others to break away from the comfortable path of modest achievement to excel, to change one self and to change the world.
The opportunity leader is the new entrepreneur of our time, who makes things happen and communicates clear and strong messages. Communication can move mountains. The opportunity leader recognizes the power of communication and strategically uses digital and social networks for messages to resonate throughout the world.
In San Francisco the message was that opportunity leaders ask ‘why not’ when faced with solutions to a problem. Even big problems and complex solutions do not make the opportunity leader run away. S/he does not complicate things but rather develops clear ideas which can be implemented.
The opportunity leader has a ‘can do’ attitude. An attitude is a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. Bad attitude is like a virus, it spreads in no time. The attitude of an opportunity leader is the positive, looking at the future as bright. The enthusiasm of the opportunity leaders is contagious and s/he injects energy into conversations and groups. Positive thinking is their outlook on life in general which helps them see opportunities where others see only risks.
The Global Opportunity Initiative is on the hunt for opportunity leaders. Follow the web-page and #globalopportunitynetw on social media to learn more and to take active part in the search.