We use cookies to improve your experience. By using our site you are accepting our cookie policy. 
Read our privacy policy to learn more.

Innovation and Best Practice
for Business Success

Established 1967



Go to Business, Finance, Risk, Information Management

Leadership PQ: Futurity

28th January 2015 | Gerry Reffo, Valerie Wark

'What most companies do wrong is miss the future.' Gerry Reffo, co-author of Leadership PQ, explains the concept of 'political intelligence' and the crucial importance of imagining and understanding the future.

Leadership PQ: Futurity

'Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.'
'What most companies do wrong is to miss the future.'

That’s not my opinion, although I agree. The words were spoken by Larry Page, co-founder of Google (Charlie Rose interview 2014). Page is one of those business leaders whose track record means that when he talks people sit up and listen. I know I certainly do. Here’s what he said when asked by Charlie Rose 'What quality of mind serves you best?'

Page responded by describing a future oriented and curious state of mind – posing the following questions:

• What is the future really going to be?
• How do we create it?
• How do we get our organisation to focus on that and to drive it at a high rate?”

In our book, Leadership PQ, Valerie Wark and I describe ‘political intelligence’ (PQ). It’s the new quotient for 21st century leaders. Researching the book, we explored with recognised global leaders the core capacities that the future will demand of leaders in business and government.

Our research echoed Larry Page. We found that leaders who made a quantifiable difference had the ability to imagine and deliver a better future.

Bob Zoellick, former Head of the World Bank and US Trade Envoy, is a very smart thinker. His speed of thought made me feel as if I was inside a kaleidoscope when he generously shared a wealth of ideas and personal reflections with us. He used the term ‘futurity’ in our conversation and we thought it was a neat descriptor of what leaders were describing to us. The ability to imagine what the future might look like, then work out with stakeholders what to do in response, and act to make it happen.

Reflecting on the big issues facing society, leaders with PQ recognise that most of the problems are too complex to be solved by one sector alone. An example of a complex problem requiring multi-stakeholder action is antibiotic resistance. It encompasses a broad group of stakeholders including governments, public and private medicine, drug companies, patients, scientists, global health NGOs, agricultural industry and veterinarians.

Effective action on research and prescribing relies on stakeholders sharing a vision that antibiotics will effectively combat infections in the future, and acting together to do what is necessary to make it happen.

In a world where power is dispersed among many stakeholders – imagining and creating products and services that offer society a better future involves working in multiple partnerships and listening to multiple stakeholders in order to deliver what is needed.

Whatever the sector – energy, telecoms, bio-tech, IT, food, education or health, the leaders that get it right will be those in the future business.

Gerry Reffo co-authored Leadership PQ with Valerie Wark. The book has been shortlisted for Management Book of the Year by the Chartered Management Institute in the prestigious Management Futures category.

To celebrate the shortlisting, you can order a copy of Leadership PQ at a 25% discount. Just enter the code CMI2014 at checkout on this site. This code is valid until 31.2.2015.


Business, Finance, Risk, Information Management

The Kogan Page range of management and leadership books combines leading authors, practicality, detailed case studies and best-practice methodology. Our books are used by managers and leaders worldwide to make informed decisions based on the latest business thinking. Follow us on Twitter @KPMgmtLeaders.

Go to zone