The executive profile of the future

By Konstantin Schamber
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 9, 2019
Adjust font size:
A man walks on a bridge in the financial district of Lujiazui in Shanghai on May 7, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

Megatrends and their impact 

The coming decades will see the emergence of several megatrends that will greatly impact the labor force, and with it, the traits of top executives. 

1. By the end of this century, a huge portion of inhabitants in developed countries are forecast to live in megacities with populations surpassing 50 million. China, India, and Japan are already moving in this direction. This is likely to change the type and forms of work, life and entertainment, as well as local and global governance.  

2. The concurrence of universalizing and particularizing tendencies – also called glocalization – will gain intensity and will be an integral part of the future. At the same time, geographic movement will increase dramatically, leading to constant migration flows across the globe. Cultural diversity will be one of the consequences of this trend. 

3. Medical breakthroughs will lead to decreased psychological and physiological age, meaning that people, i.e. the workforce, may look younger and exhibit energy and labor potential even at the age of 90. For the first time in human history, wealthy elderly people would be able to prolong their lives and remain active participants in economic and political systems.

4. Rapid technological development might lead to a shift in decision-making. The current model, by which one or a few people make key management decisions, could prove problematic and economically unprofitable with time. Thus, high-level interaction between executives and stakeholders, as well as the involvement of artificial intelligence, might reduce the role of the corporate hierarchy in the management process.  

Skills profile 

Based on these megatrends and their profound effects, future executives will need to draw on some key competencies to maintain success and competitiveness in the market. 

Self-study and rapid adaptation 

Trends such as mobility, automatization, individualization and irregular working hours will likely to lead to a relatively frequent change in location and scope of work. Approximately every 3-7 years, executives will change between organizational units to start their next project. The consequence of this will be the need for fast self-learning of new disciplines, as well as short-term adaptation to new working conditions, project themes and teams. Based on this, it can be assumed that future executives will need the desire and ability for self-study, a high level of discipline, and advanced adaptability. Furthermore, as technology continues to increase the flow and speed of information, and human comprehensibility is eclipsed, many workflows and decision-making processes will be automated. So executive activity will focus on team management and the application of AI and computer-based output.

Physical and psychological self-care

Short-term project roles across organizational units will also lead many executives to be subject to constant job rotation and psychological stress, which correlates to higher risk for certain diseases. Thus, frequent medical intervention and the self-discipline to maintain a healthy lifestyle will be necessary, as will the ability to disconnect from work to avoid psychological overload. In fact, the health condition of an executive may not be a private issue anymore. As public and highly paid figures, executives may have to publicly maintain their physical condition and lifestyle to avoid punitive action by insurance companies, employers or other public bodies. 

Self-identification in a fluctuating environment

The future executive will be subject to a great deal of social and cognitive uncertainty arising from constant movement within real and virtual worlds. Therefore, it will be critically important for executives to overcome the potential social isolation, patterned thinking and psychological burnout. Moreover, progressive executives will have to constantly create for themselves short-term forms of self-identification, which they must believe in, and which will change frequently. Such a process will require strong self-confidence, education, and the presence of meta-goals. 

Multicultural team management 

The megatrends point to increased mobility and intercultural communication among organizations and different social groups, including virtual ones. Therefore, one of the central tasks of the future executive will be the management of heterogeneous teams, which in many cases will consist of people of different generations, nationalities, and cultural heritage. 


The classic executive roles may lose their relevance with the profound changes in skills required of successful leaders of the future. The position may become less prescriptive and supervisory, and more conducive to the development and support of teams and environments. In fact, the focus likely will shift away from the executives themselves, to be placed on the goal and mission that the given organization is working to promote. 

Dr. Konstantin Schamber is an international entrepreneur and expert in intercultural communication and artificial intelligence from the social sciences point of view. He is the managing director of the Center for Strategic Intercultural Communication GmbH in Germany and the founder of the Business Innovation Congress in Asia.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

If you would like to contribute, please contact us at

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from