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Whatever the circumstance, one thing we can be sure of is that the future is coming. No matter the success of the standards and systems of the past, disruption is inevitable. Incidentally, it is in crises that the future often arrives. Think back to some of the biggest technological innovations of the past and you will find yourself in the greatest wars and struggles of history.

COVID is no different. The past few months have seen the future that we knew was awaiting us arrive far ahead of schedule bringing with it the innovations and solutions that we were promised in a decade.

Think back to your teachers at school. What characterised them? In schools, the approaches to teaching and authority tend to group themselves into four key categories.

These categories apply just as readily to forms of leadership that we come across in workplaces, teams and the public sphere. The traps that teachers fall into are just as dangerous for leaders in any industry and the potential for both harm and good is just as strong.

The need for change in education has been an urgent topic of interest in recent years. As it is perhaps the most future-focussed industry that exists, equipping the innovators, workers and leaders of tomorrow, its vulnerability to current disruption is a necessary area of concern.

For many of us in the corporate or educational world, the idea of a Growth Mindset has been front of mind in recent years. In many of my own books and articles I have explored what constitutes a Growth Mindset, what differentiates it from a Fixed Mindset and how it can be fostered in workers, students and leaders.

However, a recent study reveals the emergence of a third kind of mindset that has proved to propel people further into innovation, creativity and efficiency than the other two ever could.

A number of years ago, a team of researchers conducted a fascinating and somewhat callous experiment in an effort to understand the process of conditioned behaviour.

As part of the experiment, scientists placed five monkeys in a room with a staircase in the centre and a bunch of bananas hanging at the top of the staircase. Whenever one of the monkeys would try to climb the steps to reach a banana, the scientists would use a hose to spray the other four monkeys with ice-cold water — much to their irritation.

Working from home has certainly been far from bliss for many of us. Attempting to do our office work within the clutter and distraction of home, navigating complex online modes of engagement and doing so within the stress of such an uncertain time has made this new work form challenging.

However, for the generation we thought would do best with it, given their demand for flexible working hours, their technological competence and their love for independence, working in isolation has proved even more difficult.

For years, it has been clear that education needs to evolve. Many teaching methods felt outdated when I was in school, let alone for current students who are preparing for a future that is fast-approaching.

The adults of tomorrow need to be equipped with skills that enable critical, creative and innovative thinking, but the teaching of today continues to drill existing knowledge and tired paradigms into students.

When it comes to teamwork, teaching and leadership, encouragement is essential. Reminding team members of their value and spurring on their progress with intentional and intelligent affirmation is crucial for a team that is moving forward.

But how can we be sure that the praise we are giving in our workplaces and classrooms will lead to mastery and genuine confidence rather than dependency and insecurity?

It may sound like something out of a sci-fi film, but technology firm Promethean recently trialled the use of an interactive hologram teacher in a London classroom. Known as a ‘HumaGram’ this holographic educator is touted as being highly interactive and extraordinarily lifelike.[1]

Everybody loves an ego boost. The word of encouragement from the colleague, the compliment from the spouse or the pat on the back from the boss work wonders for our sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a very modern idea and one that is talked about abundantly within schools, workplaces and self-help books. The way we feel about ourselves is instrumental in affecting the way we treat others, the way we behave and the way we work. It has become the everyday individual’s responsibility to protect their self-esteem.