Leading in a Globalized World: Lessons from Young Professionals in Foreign Policy

This post originally appeared on GovLoop.

by Mark Bardwell

This afternoon Gary Barnabo, President of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP), and founder and chairman Joshua Marcuse shared their insights at the NextGen Conference about the global trends that will shape the Millennial Generation, and the opportunities that this future presents.

“Our generation is rising at a time of fundamental change, a new era,” explained Barnabo.  “We’re seeing a global economic transition: the rise of the ‘global South’ especially the Middle East.  We’re also seeing an aging world.  Developed countries are getting old, and those places have burgeoning populations are also the places least able to cope.  At the same time technology is promising — dig data, robotics, biotech, globalized networks, and some people are even saying an ‘digital singularity‘ as artificial intelligence begins to become smarter than people.   And we all know about climate change.  Water is the new oil.”

It’s become clear, Barnabo and Marcuse explained, that trends and challenges know no borders–everything affects everything else.  Air from all continents is exchanged by planes every 48 hours.  This isn’t just a statement of fact about the rate of passenger travel: there are huge implications for the spread of disease, and pandemics.  Interconnectedness will affect everyone.”

“Further,” said Barnabo, “we don’t have frameworks for this.  Seemingly local decisions are having widespread consequences–think of the housing bubble.  Our laws, regulations, and ethics can’t keep up.  The world that the Millennial Generation faces is profoundly different than ever before.  With all these challenges, is there a better way to lead?  Will we be ready?

“We need a framework to make sense of complexity,” Barnabo explained. “We’re in a 3i world.

  1. Interdependence
  2. Interconnectedness
  3. Integration

Marcuse explained that In the 3i world, our new leaders must have a global perspective.  But more than that, they must establish tri-sector partnerships between government, business, and civil society because no one sector can meet the challenges alone.  “Future leaders,” said Marcuse, “will be judged not by their own ability to solve a problem, but by how well they can convene and sustain diverse actors to create enduring solutions.”

And finally, rising leaders must take entrepreneurial approaches.

The future belongs to entrepreneurs,” Marcuse said. “Everyone should see themselves as a foreign policy leader. Social media lets likeminded people organize on a scale and speed never before seen.  YouTube, Twitter, Facebook — these platforms have shown that socially connected entrepreneurial individuals can bring governments to their knees.”

Marcuse offered 5 themes for Federal entrepreneurship in particular:

  1. Unconventional thinkers–embrace and demand new ideas!
  2. Early adopters to build momentum. First followers are critical!
  3. Explorers who go beyond their normal job duties!
  4. Integrators who bring bridge boundaries.
  5. Closers who GET THE JOB DONE!

Consider these lessons if you aspire to be a NextGen leader.  The same skills that got us here won’t keep us here or get us there.  It’s time for new thinking and the NextGen of leadership.