2020 Visionary Leadership Series: Lesson Two

“Neoteny is more than retaining a youthful appearance, although that is often part of it. Neoteny is the retention of all those wonderful qualities that we associate with youth: curiosity, playfulness, eagerness, fearlessness, warmth, energy. Unlike those defeated by time and age, our geezers have remained much like our geeks – open, willing to take risks, hungry for knowledge and experience, courageous, eager to see what the new day brings. Time and lost steal the zest from the unlucky and leave them looking longingly at the past. Neoteny is a metaphor for the quality – and the gift – that keeps the fortunate of whatever age focused on all marvelous undiscovered things to come.”
Warren G. Bennis

In order for a company to have strong growth and an amazing impact in the market and world, it must be led by vision, goals and outcomes. To build a vision, you need a leader who sees beyond their own world and ways of thinking.

You need a leader who exhibits the second practice: Boundaryless Thinking. 

Here a few examples of these kinds of leaders, who because they changed their world, they changed the world:

  • Dr. James P Allison
  • Wangari Maathai
  • Dr. Tasuko Honjo
  • Brian Cox
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Stew Leonard
  • Susan Solomon
  • Sean Combs
  • Wendy Kopp
  • Brian Greene
  • Mary Barra
  • Greg Gage
  • John Wooden
  • Chuck Hull
  • Madam CJ Walker

I am sure you could add many more to this list.

These leader practice neoteny from the quote above. Their ability to have boundaryless thinking sets them apart as leaders.  Here are a few of their practices:

  1. They seek out diverse people and thinking
  2. They sustain their friendships, colleagues and alliances over time
  3. They know when their thinking is stale, and they challenge themselves to learn from others
  4. They embrace all cultures and perspectives
  5. They look at the unknown as a mystery to be learned and discovered
  6. They enjoy new experiences
  7. They have a zest to be a part of making the old better (like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs), the unknown, known (Brian Cox and Brian Green), and people’s lives just a little bit better (Stew Leonard, Madam CJ Walker, John Wooden)

Be a boundaryless thinker and observe that when you expand yourself, you expand all those around you. You will find yourself with a new level of resourcefulness and creativity to provide new options, plans and possibilities to your team, your organization and the world.