Build a Future-Fit Organization with The Five Leadership Superpowers™: The CHRO’s Role



Author: Jay Weiser, Chief Catalyst and Navigator of Jay Weiser Consulting.


Amidst a landscape marked by global instability and organizational upheaval, HR leaders are pivotal in steering their companies toward resilience and future readiness. The insights from The Conference Board® C-Suite Outlook 2024 emphasize the urgent need for a strategic overhaul in human capital management. This article is crucial for HR professionals seeking to transform challenges into opportunities, ensuring their organizations not only survive but thrive in an era of relentless change and competition.

In the open paragraph of The Conference Board® C-Suite Outlook 2024, “Winning Through Change and Disruption,” it says:

“The global economy’s continued weakness; rising operating costs; labor challenges; trade tensions between the US, China, and Europe; wars in the Middle East and Ukraine; threatening events in the Pacific; … all make for a volatile and unsettling global picture for 2024.”

In addition, there is change and disruption within an organization and its ecosystem, not to mention increasing competition. The report poses a question that executives are struggling the world over.

How can business leaders win through all the chaos and disruption and become tomorrow’s leaders with future-ready organizations?”

Senior leaders can no longer ignore this question. Failing to respond and act will inevitably lead to declining performance and an existential crisis at worst. Those that do respond and act will leave the rest in the dust.

PWC’s 27th Annual Global Survey, “Thriving in an Age of Continuous Reinvention,” highlighted a startling statistic: 45% of CEOs said that if their company continued on its current path, their business would be viable for ten years or less. Contrast that with recent research from Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, Gartner, McKinsey, and The Conference Board, which indicates that companies that are better prepared, more resilient, and future-fit outperform those not on multiple financial, customer, and employee measures.  

Investing in Human Capital Management: The Key to Becoming Future-ready

According to recent research, human capital accounts for over 80% of the value of modern companies. It should be no wonder that The Conference Board® C-Suite Outlook 2024 reports human capital as one of the top five concerns across all geographies and industries. To be specific, top priorities included the development of leadership and workplace capabilities and strengthening organizational culture, which were crucial for attracting and retaining top talent.

Human capital must become an organizational imperative driven from the top, starting with the CEO and all C-suite leaders. Human capital issues, especially leadership and culture, can no longer fall solely in the CHRO’s and HR’s lap. While the CHRO (and HR team) guides and enables this effort, a resolute, fully supportive, and actively engaged CEO and senior leadership team is necessary.

Traditional leadership models and capabilities are insufficient at best and potentially damaging at worst. Leaders have recognized or are now acknowledging that they need new and enhanced leadership capabilities to become future-ready, navigate the turbulent whitewater ahead, and thrive.

Despite expectations that they will lead the effort, many CHROs, like their leadership colleagues, need to develop new and enhanced capabilities. Based on my experience and research, the key to becoming future-ready and able to thrive in whitewater is The Five Leadership Superpowers™.

The Five Leadership Superpowers™:  The Foundation of Future-Readiness.

The Five Leadership Superpowers™, a leadership capability model I developed, guides and enables leaders to effectively navigate an environment characterized by accelerating change, frequent and simultaneous crises, and widespread uncertainty. 

Two core principles form the foundation of this model:

  1. While leaders cannot choose their circumstances, they always get to decide how to respond.
    Choosing to be a “captain” over a “captive” is essential. Why? Captains step up, grab the helm, steer through the storm, motivate others, and shape their future. Captives hide in the hull and allow others to dictate their future. Taking agency is vital.
  2. Leaders must see, think, and do differently. 
    • Seeing differently begins with leaders looking at the environment from different stakeholder perspectives, zooming out to see the big picture and zooming in, when necessary, to see the detail.
    • Thinking differently starts with leaders being open to challenging past approaches and testing assumptions. They look for better ways to resolve challenges. They experiment, trying different methods and models.  Knowing that either/or thinking is not adequate for complex challenges, they adoptboth/and thinkingto find a better solution. 
    • Doing differently begins with the realization that doing the same things and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. After seeing and thinking differently, they realize it’s time to act differently by becoming future-fit, prepared, ready, and able to compete in turbulent and uncertain environments. 

The Superpowers do not replace core management and leadership capabilities. Instead, they augment and improve their effectiveness. 

Each of these Superpowers represents a tension leaders must navigate. Instead of seeing each as a binary choice (fixed mindset), each Superpower employs both/and thinking to find a third and better way (growth mindset). 

The Five Leadership Superpowers™ are essential capabilities for leaders in navigating the complexities of today’s business world. They represent a paradigm shift from traditional leadership models to a more dynamic, future-ready approach. Each Superpower is a blend of skills, mindset, and strategies that, in combination, form a comprehensive toolkit for modern leaders.

The Five Leadership Superpowers are being a(n):

  1. Present Futurist™: One who robustly understands the present AND excels at anticipating the future and envisioning scenarios and integrates insights from both to inform decision-making.

  2. Experienced Learner™: One who leverages experience and expertise yet realizes it is often insufficient, or wrong, under current/future circumstances AND is curious, open to challenges, asks questions, and engages and considers diverse views while fostering a safe environment.

  3. Prepared Risk Taker™: One who understands risk-taking is an essential part of business, takes measured, smart risks to achieve strategic goals, and is risk intelligent AND maintains a strategic level of preparedness for future turbulence, integrating both to inform decisions.

  4. Strategic Executor™: One who understands strategy and operations are inextricably linked, addresses urgent operational concerns while staying focused on achieving strategic objectives, AND considers the long-term implications of short-term choices before making decisions.

  5. Accountable Collaborator™: One who recognizes that cross-functional and cross-organizational collaboration is necessary to solve the complex challenges we face AND that forms fit-for-purpose teams focused on and capable of delivering shared outcomes for which they are accountable.

The Superpowers represent a paradigm shift for leaders – from static traits to a more dynamic, future-ready toolkit. How? By removing blind spots, enabling better decisions, dampening risks, and amplifying opportunities. When fully embraced, the Superpowers create a multiplier effect across the leadership team and organization. The outcomes improved agility, resilience, and performance in times of uncertainty.

The CHRO’s Central Role: Preparing the Leadership Team and Spearheading the Charge

Today’s dynamic business environment demands a reimagined approach to leadership, particularly in managing human capital. CHROs have now become pivotal, steering their organizations through this “treacherous” landscape. The role encompasses managing talent and shaping organizational culture and strategy in partnership with the CEO and Senior Leadership Team. For many, this is or will be a significant expansion of responsibilities and, if successful, a career-altering opportunity.

I recommend the following steps to build a cohesive, committed, and Superpowered leadership team.

  1. Discuss the challenge and why new capabilities are essential.
  2. Educate the senior leadership team on The Five Leadership Superpowers™ and their value.
  3. Provide coaching to support real-world applications to address challenges and find solutions.
  4. Partner with the CEO and other senior executives to communicate the imperative for change, provide progress updates, recognize Superpowered leaders, and celebrate wins.

Doing this effectively and efficiently is vital to build team morale. An experienced guide and navigator can be a force multiplier, partnering with you to do this expeditiously and avoid common pitfalls. This effort aims to establish a future-ready, Superpowered team to co-lead this effort. When this happens, it is no longer an HR initiative. It is a leadership team and an organizational one.

The Superpowers Enable CHROs to Lead Change

Here are some illustrative examples.

Present Futurist™: The CHRO stays abreast of current workforce dynamics, technological advancements, and evolving market conditions while envisioning future talent needs and organizational strategies. Uses insights to inform discussions, enabling timely, better decisions and thoughtful actions.

Experienced Learner™: The CHRO, in concert with the Chief Learning Officer, fosters and encourages continuous learning for senior executives to those on the frontline. The CHRO and HR leaders work with the executive team and business partners to identify on-the-job learning opportunities. They support them in engaging a diversity of stakeholders, asking questions, being curious, encouraging debate in a psychologically safe environment, and fostering this in others.

Prepared Risk Taker™: The CHRO works with the executive team to balance the need for organizational stability with the agility to capitalize on new opportunities and rethink traditional talent management approaches, including experimenting with new recruiting strategies or learning technologies.

Strategic Executor™: The CHRO works with colleagues to translate strategic objectives into actionable HR initiatives that drive organizational growth and performance, advocating for continued human capital investment. Makes visible the impact of short-term decisions on long-term performance.

Accountable Collaborator™: The CHRO improves relationships with other areas to enable working seamlessly across different functions and with external stakeholders to achieve shared and desired human capital and business outcomes.

Key Benefits of a Superpowered Organization

When the CHRO and the HR organization learn and apply the Superpowers in collaboration with other leaders, they become business partners and enablers of improved performance and long-term value creation. Together, they enable the organization to become future-ready. Here are a few benefits:

  1. Future-Fit Talent Strategies: Using the Present Futurist Superpower to analyze current workforce trends and project future needs. Not only understanding the skills required but also anticipating changes in work dynamics, such as the rise of remote work or the integration of AI in the workplace.

  2. Continuous Learning Culture: Applying the Experienced Learner Superpower, CHROs, and other business leaders foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. Beyond learning and development programs and on-the-job growth experiences, they create an environment where curiosity, innovation, and diverse perspectives are fostered and valued.

  3. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Utilizing the Accountable Collaborator Superpower, CHROs, and other leaders break down silos, form fit-for-purpose and fit-for-the-future teams, facilitate teams working across functions and even with external parties, and remove obstacles, so they can solve complex challenges to achieve critical stakeholder outcomes and be collectively accountable for results.

By embracing and applying these Five Leadership Superpowers™, CHROs can transform their organizations’ approach to human capital. This proactive and strategic role elevates HR leaders from traditional functionaries to critical players in driving organizational success. Implementing these Superpowers leads to a more resilient, agile, and future-ready organization capable of thriving in the face of change and uncertainty.

This results in less uncertainty and better, faster, more informed decisions and actions versus persistent firefighting, dampening downside risk, leading to faster recovery from disruptions, and amplifying upside returns as the company can pounce on opportunities while others struggle.

Starting a Transformation Begins with Purpose, Vision, and the First Step.

The truth is that human capital, always necessary to address, is emerging as a pivotal point when it comes to thriving in the turbulent and uncertain environment of the future. Those proactive in addressing these issues will transform their organization and create a significant, even sustainable, advantage over those who do not. That can be the difference between thriving and barely surviving.

The effort can appear daunting at first, but once started, not so much. The results will be course-altering and invaluable. I recently asked my brother, David, how he can run long distances (marathons and ultramarathons). He said, “I envision the goal. I invest in preparation and take one step at a time.”

It is time to take that first step. Are you ready? Consider me your running partner and coach. We can do it together. Let’s get started.

Jay Weiser is the Chief Catalyst and Navigator of Jay Weiser Consulting. Fueled by a passion for helping his clients reach their full potential, he guides, educates, and enables leadership teams, their organizations, and their boards to become future-ready and thrive in the face of accelerating change, frequent and simultaneous disruptions, and resulting uncertainty. He is a frequent speaker and podcast guest and shares his thought leadership on LinkedIn. Based in Atlanta, he works with clients globally. Follow and connect with Jay Weiser on LinkedIn at or jay@jayweiser.

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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