Leading for Tomorrow and Beyond – Porto

February 2, 2016

Presentation Summary

Speaking in Porto in Portugal, Kevin Roberts talks about the future of leadership and the defining difference between success and failure. He argues that we live in a SUPERVUCA world - the world of the creative leaders. But how do you become a creative leader? Kevin Roberts outlines five ways to become such leader.

leadership, porto

I’m going to talk about the future of leadership, the defining difference between success and failure.

Leadership hasn’t changed much in 5000 years, because it is about human nature. It is about engaging emotional drivers. As ESPN Coach of the Century Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

What has changed is a leader’s tools and reach, bringing new opportunities, responsibilities and imperatives.

Responding to the leadership challenge requires changing your world view. Which world do you operate in?

The VUCA world we live in, weighing on post-GFC Portugal:

Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.

  • This is the world of the classic leader, a rules-led paranoid pessimist.

The world rising up around us, a magic metaverse, SuperVUCA!

Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding.

  • This is the world of the Creative Leader, a rule-breaking, ideas-ripping, radical optimist.

George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Start with your ABCs:

  • ambition,
  • belief and
  • courage.

We live in a high-speed instant era. People spend more time online than sleeping. 3.7 billion people have a mobile phone. 3 billion people are online. 2 billion people have social media accounts.

In today’s fast connection-hot reaction world, “doing things right” – management – is table stakes. “Doing the right things,” leadership, defines success, and it is the unreasonable power of creativity that drives growth today.

Ideas defeat VUCA, not strategies, processes, plans.

Ideas are reframing every industry there is.

Ideas are the currency of today, delivering rocket growth.

Organizations with the most ideas are best placed to win.

“Creativity is just connecting things,” said Steve Jobs. Creative Leadership is about connecting deeper, closer and faster in an Age of Now.









Return on Investment

Return on Involvement

Pumping Markets

Creating Movements

In the Age of Now, where the audience has power, the operating system of business is emotion.

Emotion fuels creativity, emotion powers scalability, and emotion perpetuates loyalty, the Holy Grail in business.

Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion leads to action.

5 Ways to Become a Creative Leader

Yes, even engineers, economists and technologists can be creative. Most likely, you already are, and don’t give yourself credit for it.

  1. Share the Dream

Leadership starts with purpose, a group’s reason for being, and Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement.”

He didn’t talk about rules or tactics. He talked about a moral imperative, about the Promised Land. He had a dream.

Dreams are about reaching for the stars, not counting them.

Dreams are at the heart of all great endeavours.

A leader has to capture people’s imagination, to make people want to belong, to make the day-to-day feel epic.

Revolution begins with language. Change the language, and you can change everything. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was named, in part, after Ronald Reagan (reports GQ).

Language drives purpose, language creates belief, belonging and direction.

  • CEO – Chief Excitement Officer
  • CMO – Chief Magic Officer


Stay hungry; Stay foolish; Why join the Navy when you can be a pirate?; Insanely great; Think different.

All Blacks:

  • No opposition is more intimidating than the legacy.
  • No one is bigger than the team.
  • Leave the jersey in a better place.
  • Once an All Black, always an All Black.
  • Champions do extra.


What is the dream of Portugal?

What is the language of Portugal in 2016?

What is the language, the story, the idea that captures the advantages and breakthroughs Portugal offers?

You mention Portugal to most people in the world and they just stare at you blankly?

Portugal had a great dream. Prince Henry the Navigator had a dream of a sea route linking Europe to Asia.

Vasco da Gama delivered the dream when he rounded the southern tip of Africa in 1497 and headed up to India. And in an act of radical optimism, of astute use of language, King John II of Portugal gave the tip the name “Cape of Good Hope.”

What is your dream today? When you google “Famous Portuguese” the list is headed by no less than 88 “Navigators, Explorers and Pioneers.” Followed by 25 saints and a few footballers.
What is Portugal navigating, exploring and pioneering today? What do you want to be known for in the world?

New Zealand had a similar problem: small, remote, in the shadow of a neighboring nation. We reframed New Zealand around the one word equity of Edge: “the world’s edge”, reflecting revolutions in wine, tourism, film, tech, and sustainable agriculture. My purpose statement for NZ is “winning the world from the edge”.

This is motivating language and a unique positioning.

What is the one word equity that sets you apart?

  1. Put Culture First

Leaders do two core things:

1. Create other leaders.

2. Inspire everyone they touch to be the best they can be – in pursuit of the Dream. And they live their lives in 3D:

  • Discipline
  • Desire
  • Determination

The challenge for today’s leader is to create a culture where ideas thrive. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

The Creative Leader achieves this with four factors:

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

The four pillars must be applied in equal measure all the time.

  1. Stay In Beta

Creative Leaders have lots of small ideas, continuously.
Quickly. 5 seconds at a time

Creative Leaders reframe constantly.

  • Steve Jobs: Presence into Absence.
  • Cirque du Soleil; Removing animals.
  • RIP David Bowie: a changeling across music, fashion, art.

I reframe brands by going straight for the heart. Brands are about the people who make them. Lovemarks are about the people who love them.

1. Brands owned by companies / LMX owned by the people.

2. Brands built on Respect / LMX created out of Respect and Love.


4. Brands: loyalty for a reason / LMX Loyalty Beyond Reason.

5. Brands deliver performance, reputation and trust. Lovemarks add three secrets: mystery, sensuality and intimacy.

6. Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

Creative Leaders surprise with the obvious.

  • Russian Space Pencil.
  • Uber, Amazon, Airbnb

Creative Leaders ask 3 questions of any idea:

  • Will people want to see it again?
  • Will people want to share it?
  • Will people want to be in it?
  1. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast

Creative leadership is about EXECUTION, not contemplation.

Creative Leaders act now, and ask for permission later.

Execution is not about getting things done. It’s about making things happen.

Here’s how most organizations ADE, and what creatively-led organizations do:













A good game is a fast game.

  1. Run the 5 Qs

Creative Leadership comes together in the only equation I’ve ever written: IQ + EQ + TQ + BQ, all powered by CQ, Creativity.

IQ: A unique intellectual point of view is tablestakes in a high-speed world. Every organization, every company, every leader better have a unique point of view just to survive.

EQ: Emotion fuels the twin driving forces of today. Not strategy and efficiency, but connectivity and creativity.

When you put people first and work back through their emotions, you transform context, you create movements, and you earn premiums and Loyalty Beyond Reason.

TQ: The key is to make technology your slave, not vice versa. TQ on its own, without EQ, is when technology fails.

Data tells us what people say and do, but not how they feel.
People like technology, but people love people.

BQ: The execution factor. Bloody quick!

In a crazy world, creative leadership is the difference. For full details see my new book – 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World – due out June 2016.


Portugal needs Creative Leaders who are:

1. Inspirational players
Mark Zuckerberg: “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.”

2. Dreamers
Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.

3. Magic makers
Edward de Bono: “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”

4. Risk takersChess grand master Savielly Tartakower: “Strategy is what you do when there is nothing to do. Tactics is what you do when there is something to do.”

5. Radical optimists
Colin Powell: “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier”

And remember that none of us is as strong as all of us.


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