Leading People in the Imagination Age

Most of us are aware that the nature of work is changing. According to Singularity University, while emerging technologies may destroy many jobs, they will also create many new appealing ones. Widespread innovation, in the imagination age, will give birth to exciting new industries, all of which are sources of new jobs and occupations.

It’s exciting to imagine an intriguing parallel future in which technology has created even more opportunities for the workforce.

Where people will maximize the potential of all three of their key modalities; heads, hearts, and hands to fill the interpersonal and creative roles that will be hardest of all to mechanize. Where, according to Deloitte, in the recent article, “The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human” the boring, repetitive work will be done by robots, leaving the more challenging, creative and interesting work for us humans, making leading in the 21st century, a key priority.

Welcome to the imagination age

The imagination age is a theoretical period beyond the information age where creativity and imagination will become the primary creators of economic value. Contrasting with the information age where analysis and thinking have been the main activities and better prepare people for a future they cannot predict or control.

“An imagination economy is defined by some thinkers as an economy where intuitive and creative thinking create economic value after logical and rational thinking has been outsourced to other economies.”

John Hagel, co-chairman of Deloitte’s Centre for the Edge, also believes the future of work relies on drawing out our capabilities that are not context-specific and that create value. And he doesn’t believe these skills are limited to the creative class. “I believe we all, as human beings, have curiosity, creativity, imagination, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence,” he said.

Putting people at the centre

How can we prepare people, and especially leaders, for the imagination age to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, creatively and collaboratively, through experimentation and innovation?

At ImagineNation™ we develop people’s head, heart, and hand capabilities, that enhance the multiple intelligences that enable them to make smart decisions and take intelligent action:

  • Head or cognitive intelligence to be more inquisitive, imaginative, curious and creative.
  • Heart or emotional intelligence to be more connected, centred, empathic and compassionate.
  • Hand or visceral intelligence to be more courageous, determined and collaborative.

In the “The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human”, Deloitte also states that If we set up the right workplaces – with people at the centre – where leading people in the 21st century really matters, Australia as a nation, can be smarter, happier and more engaged than it is today:

  • Workers can have the skills they need (effectively making them better suited to – smarter – for the jobs of the future) in the imagination age.
  • Better matching between what businesses need and what workers have can make workplaces happier and more efficient.
  • And more flexible workplaces can encourage more people to work – to be more engaged than they are today.

Shifting the leading in the 21st-century paradigm

With these factors in mind, how might they impact future leaders, and how can we prepare leaders to simultaneously and speedily improve and sustain business performance, whilst create meaningful work for people – in ways that are agile, trustworthy and collaborative?

One way might be to focus on developing their head, heart and hand capabilities, by igniting ImagineNations’ six C’s of innovation leadership.

These are the foundations for leading people in ways that activate people’s ability to be, think, talk and act differently, to survive and thrive in the imagination age.

Introducing the six C’s for generating creative energy and leading people in the imagination age

  1. Connected: being fully present to self, other, group and the whole system, being transparent and composed, evoking both ‘what is’ and imagining ‘what could be’ possible.
  2. Curiosity: being open-minded, inquisitive, enquiring and listening, to self, other, group, and the whole system, evoking wonder, novelty, and possibilities to sense opportunities.
  3. Compassionate: being open-hearted and empathic to the feelings and suffering of self, other, group, and the whole system, bringing out the very best in people, evoking kindness and gratitude in self and others.
  4. Courageous: being strong, candid, assertive, bold and provocative, to take smart risks and challenge the status quo, disrupt how people habitually and comfortably feel, think and do things, evoking mindset and behaviour shifts that shift the status quo.
  5. Confidence: being self-efficacious, believing in self and other’s ability to effect change, create, invent and innovate, evoking determination, persistence, and resilience to sustain intelligent actions, that deliver the desired results.
  6. Creativity: embodying and enacting all of the C’s of innovation to ideate, invent and innovate, through facilitating generative conversations, that result in smarter, speedier ways of solving problems and making intelligent decisions for the good of the whole.

Imagination will be the most valued skill in our modern society

In The Singularity is Near book, Raymond Kurzweil states that future combination of AI, nanotechnology, and biotechnology will create a world where anything that can be imagined will be possible, raising the importance of imagination as the key mode of human thinking and being.

Leading imaginatively in the 21st century will seriously leverage talents’ ability to succeed and flourish in the fourth industrial revolution.

Leading people as a noble endeavor

Making leading people, in the digital and imagination ages and economy, a very noble endeavor, where McKinsey states in their article, “Leading in the 21st century”

“If the burden of leadership in the modern age seems overwhelming, the potential benefits are overwhelming too. Large organizations – if led well – can do more for more people than they have at any other moment in history. That is the flip side of all the chaos, complexity, and pressure, and it makes leading through those challenges a noble endeavor”.


Janet Sernack
Janet Sernack
JANET loves change, as it creates opportunities for growth and development, as well as unexpected, deviant, imaginative and creative responses. She is passionate about creating and delivering innovative learning, coaching and consulting programs to coaches, leaders and organizations. Janet has gained her consulting, education, facilitation, training and executive coaching skills, from over 30 years of experience in the consulting; manufacturing and retailing; learning and development businesses in Australasia and Israel. She has personally experienced challenging career and lifestyle changes; which have provided her with a serious amount of chutzpah and resilience, and a wide breadth of knowledge, skills and experience: She has a fresh and pragmatic perspective towards corporate learning that is holistic and systemic.

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  1. In the past, imagination has been considered a false, almost mythical, and relegated function to poets. But today we know that it is the most powerful faculty of the human mind and that it plays a fundamental role in our life, being the reality of everything that exists. We live in a world of imagination and there is nothing that has not been imagined before.
    An economic era is passing, another is emerging and, as has always happened historically, these changes bring with them some turbulence, but also valuable opportunities for growth. In every phase of change, human activities have evolved accordingly. Today we are facing a new change, which will lead to a new shift in human activities. The work will evolve again, requiring more social / emotional skills and more advanced cognitive abilities like the imagination!
    We are in the midst of a real revolution. There is no instruction booklet, and what is needed most is a dynamic and creative mind. Nowadays, creativity is in fact considered the most important quality of leadership, followed by integrity and global thinking. employers will look for creative people, who know how to use their imagination to create greater benefit to others and to themselves.
    To evolve we need to give space to creativity with regards to business (awakening) and school education (not suffocating it). No longer, therefore, simply replicating, reacting, recreating but acting in a conscious and deliberate way, and creating through the strategic use of the imagination.
    Creativity and imagination are basic, vital qualities.
    I therefore believe that we must not let ourselves be harnessed by the past, but welcome the future. Don’t fossilize on the old, but discover the new and help those around us do the same. This too is an exercise in the imagination.

    • Hi Aldo, Janet here, thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with the group, it is most appreciated, it’s wonderful to meet a fellow traveler & advocate who sees the possibility of an imaginative and creative future.

    • Thanks for your comments, great point, it is very likely that more new pportunities will emerge for people to do the work of people – and in fact, a multitude of new jobs & roles, that have not previously existed, will emerge for people to fill in the future.

    • While it may be possible new jobs will emerge for some of these workers this song has been played before with ending always being fewer jobs for fewer people.

    • Sorry Joel, that was Janet and not Anonymous replying, perhaps, and its also a great opportunity for the people who are willing and able, to learn the new skill sets as outlined by the World Economic Forum, or become self-sufficient thru entrepreneurial endeavors. Remember, in times of significant change the nature of work also changes, therefore there will be real jobs changes too, and there may also be fewer jobs for fewer people. So being aware and adaptive is key.

    • There is everything to gain by learning new skill sets providing they are usable. Entrepreneurial endeavors sounds great but here again, that means nothing. Robots will steal jobs from people. That is not acceptable.

    • Janet again, yes, the robots are coming, we must prepare ourselves the best way we can in the post humanistic world (yes, check out Singularity University on this notion) that may be emerging in ways that potentially work for everyone. I guess there is no simple answer or response, thanks again for sharing your concerns.