The Future of Leadership

Food for next-level leaders

Nicholas Fair Nowak
Published in
5 min readNov 17, 2020
Photo by archi archiba on Unsplash

Leadership is like food.

1. We need it.

2. It’s perishable.

3. Healthy is the future.

We need it.

“Someone has to take responsibility for being a leader.” –Toni Morrison

That’s a great nugget. Not a wasted word, and it rings the bell, slaps the face, strips the bed, what have you. If we lived in a utopia, we’d be all set — but we don’t. The world needs leadership because it has problems, and we need people who want to solve them. Most people aspire to be considered a leader, but how many achieve that status?

Evan Sinar of the Global Leadership Forecast suggested, “We’ve seen a continued slippage in leadership bench strength (ready-now leaders who can step in to replace those who retire or move on) — in 2018, only 14% of companies have a strong bench, the lowest number we’ve ever seen” (Caprino, 2018). All great teams need a deep bench, one with people itching to play the game, and not from their phones.

I mention phones here because teens who spend more time on social media are more likely to “value individualistic attitudes and less likely to value community involvement.” So, even though they are supportive of equality, they are also “less civically engaged and feel more entitled to things even if they don’t work for them” (Twenge, 2017, pg. 176). The Twitter bird feed doesn’t have enough nutritional value.

Leadership will always be in high demand. Sticking to the food analogy, if you want to play the long game, you can’t sit on one good harvest. You need to be a farmer.

It’s perishable

Leadership expires. Heminia Ibarra discusses the “Authenticity Paradox,” where sticking to our authentic selves can actually hold us back. She argues that leaders should experiment with different styles that may feel inauthentic so they can grow:

Most of us have personal narratives about defining moments that taught us important lessons. Consciously or not, we allow our stories, and the images of ourselves that they paint, to guide us in new situations. But the stories can become…



Nicholas Fair Nowak

Dad, husband, educator, camp guy, founder of — building better culture, masculinity, and leadership. Medium profits support educational equity.