For those who haven’t followed it, the series features John Connor, a child raised by a mother who had the benefit of foresight and prepared him for a coming post-apocalyptic world order, where he would lead and survive, where others would perish.
Looking at the mayhem that surrounds the characters in the movie, I found myself thinking of the modern business environment.
The internet wreaked havoc with many traditional industries (a process that is still continuing). Then the financial system crashed. Add the continuing pressure of globalization, which has made job security a thing of the past.
Start-up vehicles have become commonplace, even within large corporations. Nobody knows anything.
Is John Connor the archetypal business leader?
Looking at John Connor, I found myself thinking of the kind of leadership it will take to succeed in this new world. He was raised to be a survivor. He was a generalist, a man of many abilities: fighting, engineering, computer hacking, marksmanship and espionage skills.
For the modern business person, I am recommending a different, but equally broad skillset: operations, finance, sales/influence and leadership. I believe this is what is needed to lead successfully in the modern business world.However most people seem unwilling to branch out, preferring instead to pursue their CPD (Continued Professional Development) within their already highly specialised skill set – or, at best, trying to tack leadership onto their existing expertise. I don’t think this is enough. You really have to get out of your ‘silo’ and get your hands dirty learning the other skills that drive business.
Otherwise, it’s as if John Connor had said he’d stick to engineering, and forget the fighting, hacking, marksmanship or espionage.
Business won’t get any easier
The business future doesn’t look like it is going to get any cuddlier – any more than the world of the Terminator movies is. People who will thrive in this future are the ones who are driven to find ways to learn the skills needed to survive. They will be willing to challenge the specialist mindset and begin to value the various components of a multi-faceted approach to life. They will enjoy the adventure of embracing other roles and transcending all of them, in order to lead creatively and elegantly.
As the credits rolled, I thought what a good model John Connor was for such a person. Multiskilled, always keen to learn, tough but capable of compassion – and stuck in a blitzed-out world where anything can happen, a world in which he is a survivor.
The actual Terminator, of course, was not Connor, but the cyborg T 800 sent to kill his mother. Maybe future leaders can learn from him too.
If there’s one thing the movie is famous for, it’s the cyborg’s line: ‘I’ll be back’. Here’s another thing a future leader will need: resilience.