insight magazine

Leadership Matters | Spring 2024

See How ‘FAR’ Your Leadership Can Go

Building flexibility, agility, and resilience are the keys to future-proofing your leadership.
Jon Lokhorst, CPA, CSP, PCC Leadership Coach, Your Best Leadership LLC

Persistent and pervasive changes in the workplace compel leaders to continually develop new skills to be relevant and effective. The World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2023” identified three of the top skills leaders need to be successful in the workplace of the future: flexibility, agility, and resilience (or, as I like to refer to them, FAR).

While there’s some debate about whether these are skills or character traits, it doesn’t diminish their importance to the future viability of your leadership. With that in mind, what can you do to develop FAR?

First, consider a working definition of each of these skills or traits in the context of emerging workplace challenges.

  • Flexibility is your ability to embrace change and identify new approaches to accomplish crucial goals and objectives when existing approaches lose their effectiveness.
  • Agility is the ability to shift your thinking and mindset amid uncertainty so that you can better understand evolving challenges and develop novel solutions to them.
  • Resilience is your ability to recover from setbacks and thrive in the face of adversity.

Next, look in the mirror—you’re likely your greatest leadership challenge. Therefore, to gain FAR, you’ll need to employ some self-leadership strategies. Here are a few to consider.


Start by looking within to discover and articulate important components of your personal foundation (i.e., your vision, purpose, mission, and values). Just like any organization, it’s crucial to know where you’re going, why it’s important, what you’re doing to get there, and how you’ll act along the way. Building a strong personal foundation is paramount to your success, especially if your goal is to advance to higher levels of leadership (you can’t build a skyscraper on a foundation meant for a garage).

To better understand your strengths, struggles, and blind spots, consider using one of the assessment tools available on the market (e.g., Myers-Briggs Tye Indicator, DiSC profile, and CliftonStrengths). In my coaching practice, I use tools from RightPath Resources because they focus more narrowly on workplace behavioral tendencies.

Regardless of the tool, treat the assessment process like a guided tour of yourself, identifying your signature strengths and the unique value you contribute as a leader. Of course, you can take these insights a step further by exploring how they shape your approach to conflict and change—the primary forces behind FAR.

Through this intentional approach to self-discovery, you’ll also gain self-awareness, which is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. With the proliferation of artificial intelligence comes an even greater need for mastery in building strong, healthy relationships that serve as a ballast in turbulent times.


Don’t wait for your boss, organization, or anyone else to develop you—develop yourself and never stop learning. Perhaps your greatest asset is your ability to learn.

Masaru Ibuka, the late co-founder of Sony, recognized this truth. Rather than focusing on learning new technologies alone, he worked to develop the ability to learn throughout the organization. In one interview, Ibuka explained: “We knew learning was a skill. The more employees learned, the better learners they became. We knew continuous learning would make them more adaptive to new ways of manufacturing.” Ultimately, this intense focus on continuous learning led Sony to become one of the most successful and highly respected electronics companies in the world.

Remember, you have the same opportunity for excellence as an individual. Never in history have there been such plentiful resources for self-development as a leader. Consider exploring books, podcasts, conferences, and on-the-job trainings. Additionally, use insights from the assessment tools I mentioned earlier and seek feedback from others to identify areas to work on. Of course, to make the learning more deeply rooted, pause regularly for self-reflection, as this will engender confidence that leads to greater FAR.


Your ability to successfully navigate the choppy waters on the sea of change depends largely on your self-talk. To better understand the value of self-talk, let’s consider two characters from well-known children’s stories.

  • Eeyore (yes, the lovable, but miserable, donkey from “Winnie the Pooh”): One of Eeyore’s classic lines is: “Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be.” You can probably hear Eeyore’s gloomy voice in your head. Eeyore’s self-talk reflects a pessimistic outlook, always focused on problems and obstacles.
  • Little Blue Engine: After much larger engines decline to pull a long train over a mountain, the much smaller engine accepts the challenge. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” it says in an optimistic mantra. Focusing on positive self-talk, the engine pulls the train over the mountain, delivering the load of toys to children on the other side. The Little Blue Engine’s self-talk didn’t ignore the daunting challenge of the uphill climb, but rather focused on possibilities and opportunities.

Which character above does your self-talk resemble? This isn’t just the stuff of children’s tales. Self-talk includes an element of self-fulfilling prophecy, enabling you to build FAR through the conversations you have with yourself.


The COVID-19 pandemic elevated the importance of self-care in combating pervasive stress and anxiety. As of late, however, I’ve noticed a lack of emphasis on this self-leadership strategy. But remember, you can’t draw water from an empty well. Self-care allows you to replenish your energy so it doesn’t run dry.

When I ask for self-care ideas during my leadership programs, exercise and healthy eating typically top the list. Reading books, watching classic movies, gardening, cooking, and faith practices also come up as suggestions. So does brewing beer, walking the dog, spending time outdoors, and doing art projects.

Whatever your preference, establish a daily routine that incorporates self-care activities. Likewise, if you find a routine is no longer helpful, revamp it. Change your schedule or try something new. At the same time, eliminate activities that drain your energy, like excessive browsing of the news or social media. After all, effective self-care leads to greater self-efficacy.

Throughout your leadership journey, you’ll often take two steps forward, only to fall back a step or two. As one of my mentors says: “You don’t lead yourself by yourself.” You need a supportive community to keep moving forward in an ever-changing and chaotic world. Find peers, colleagues, friends, and family members to encourage and challenge you along the way.

As you future-proof your leadership, consider the mantra from what’s often quoted as an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go ‘FAR,’ go together.”

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