Interview w Daniel Pink

This is a piece I wrote…

Leading with a Whole New Mind: Daniel Pink’s Memo for Tomorrow’s Leaders

Daniel Pink discusses his latest book, A Whole New Mind, with emotional intelligence expert Joshua Freedman, and identifies key skills for leaders in a changing marketplace.

What do you get when you add up designer toilet brushes, Frappucinos, increasing obesity, innovation and outsourcing? According to trend-watcher Daniel Pink, it’s a new business climate — that calls for a new breed of leadership.

To thrive in the era of the three As — Abundance, Asia, and Automation — companies have to offer significance above and beyond product value. And leading this kind of business takes special talent – talent that’s increasingly hard to find.

The business challenge begins with a changing marketplace, and continues with a new generation workforce. Pink says businesses will find it increasingly challenging to hold marketshare. “Today you have to have the ability to do something that’s hard to outsource, hard to automate, and that satisfies some of the nonmaterial demands of this very abundant age. An age where many consumers in the West have had their basic material functional needs satisfied or over satisfied. The way you stand out in a crowded marketplace is to appeal to spirituality, emotion, aesthetics, and so forth.”

The abundance of the current Western economy translates to a glutted market. With a dozen places for gourmet coffee, why turn to Starbucks? With more cars owned in America than there are drivers, why will someone buy a Prius?

Pink says “this puts a premium on aesthetic, emotional, and even spiritual aspects of goods and services.” This explains why self-help and spirituality remain booming, why a 3-star “middle America” hotel puts aromatherapy and guided meditation in executive rooms, and why there is a line for back massage in the Chicago airport. Sometimes called the “LOHAS” market (Lifestyle of Health and Spirituality), there is a trend Pink calls the “accelerated the search for meaning” that a few exceptional leaders are poised to serve. These leaders are metaphorically using “right-brain” skills of creativity and relationship-building (there’s no neurobiological evidence of the right/left brain concept, but it’s a catchy metaphor).

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