In a field notorious for its resistance to change, the leaders working to vault school systems into the future tend to stand out in a crowd. The Futurist is a starry-eyed visionary who refuses to let education lag behind the private sector in anything, whether that means internal culture, physical workspaces, or the latest technology.
Futurists spend a lot of their time working against the status quo, but their purpose is not change for its own sake. When these leaders see the path to a better future for their teams, their learners, or their communities, they are more interested in moving things along than in sitting down to talk about it.
Futurists are very much connected to the research, both in and out of educational circles. Whether it’s a new approach to scheduling, a different format for professional development, or an examination of emerging technology in the classroom, the Futurist is always looking for the next big breakthrough.
Knowledge, foresight, and disruption are the hallmarks of a Futurist. These leaders must remain agile—those in whom the analyst trait is strongest lean heavily on the data to guide their course corrections, while the more emotion-oriented Futurists will rely on observation and feedback.
What the kids see
The Futurist is a strong candidate for “coolest” edleader in the eyes of his or her students. Futurists will want to see their latest innovations in action at every opportunity, and their fascination with technology will often find them testing cool new gadgets in the company of students. Because of this, Futurists will embody a welcome surprise to kids who are otherwise frustrated with their school’s inability to keep up with the pace they are setting. Futurists are the flag-bearers for STEM, and are at their best when encouraging students to pursue their 21st century hobbies and passions beyond the typical boundaries of a K-12 environment.
Change is often necessary, but it’s rarely easy for anyone on the front lines. Futurists must go out of their way to consider the human impact of their vision, or risk alienating those whose buy-in and support they need to bring it to life. The hardest challenge for a Futurist is dialing back the revolution to more manageable levels. The second-hardest challenge is communicating the “why” behind it all.
The curse of the Futurist is the clarity of his or her vision. With the end goal so clearly visible in the mind’s eye, Futurists sometimes fail to give proportionate attention to the mundane steps required to get there. This also makes it hard for the Futurist to empathize with those who struggle to grasp that vision without something a little more tangible to hold on to. These factors can saddle unwary Futurists with reputations as head-in-the-clouds dreamers who can’t get things done. Self-awareness and patience don’t always come easy for Futurists, but both traits can help them steer clear of the more common traps of this leadership style.
Learn about the other types: