The Simply Brilliant “Fit for the Future” Quiz

The quiz below is based on the leadership traits Bill discusses in his Harvard Business Review article, The 4 Kinds of Leaders Who Create the Future.


Alan Kay, the educator and computer designer, famously declared, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” But what does it take to invent the future in a turbulent and uncertain world? I’ve made it a point to pay special attention to leaders who seem energized (rather than paralyzed) by the prospect of change and transformation. As I reflect on these leaders, on the attitudes and mindset that drive them, I’ve identified four traits that make them fit for the future.

This Quiz will help you figure out whether you share any of these traits, and which of them suits your personality and leadership style. Of course, there is no one way to make yourself more fit for the future. But each of us has to figure out which of these habits of mind best suits who we are, and thus helps invent an exciting and compelling future for our organizations.

It takes just a few minutes to answer the questions. For an accurate result, make sure your answers reflect who you are and how you think, rather than how you suspect others might want you to respond. There is no single path to a more compelling and prosperous future.

Here are the questions…Let’s invent the future!

“One of my greatest responsibilities is keeping up with the technologies, cultural shifts, and demographic trends that are reshaping the world. If I’m not learning, I’m not doing my job.”

“I feel most energized when I’m intellectually uncomfortable—meeting people who are different from me, experimenting with emerging technologies, wrestling with unfamiliar ideas.”

“When it comes to innovation, I believe it’s just as important to look for breakthrough ideas in fields unrelated to mine as to build on ideas from my field. I am always searching for new ideas about where to finds new ideas.”

When was the last time you tried something new (a new route to work, a new type of music, a new app or piece of software)?

“I value the skills and experience I bring to my role as a leader, but I worry that my personal achievements might limit my creativity going forward.”

“I work hard to surround myself with colleagues, mentors, and business partners with different backgrounds than mine who are willing to challenge my ideas and strategic point of view.”

“These days, people who are new to an industry or seeing a problem for the first time are just as likely to come up with a great idea as people with lots of history and experience.”

“I worry more about sticking with an idea or strategy for too long, even if it’s working, than about devising my next idea or strategy, even if it’s at odds with what’s worked in the past.”

“Even in tough times and difficult situations, I am optimistic about the future and confident I will achieve my goals.”

“I value smart colleagues and experts with deep knowledge. But when it comes to unleashing big innovations or dealing with tough problems, I most value colleagues who exude positive energy and zest for their work.”

Consider this quote from legendary scholar John Gardner on the kinds of leaders he admires: “I place my bets more often on high motivation than on any other quality...There is no perfection of techniques that will substitute for the lift of spirit and heightened performance that comes from strong motivation.” Do you…

If you had to choose one attribute to describe the sort of person who is best equipped to lead a company, business unit, or team into the future, which one of the following would you choose?

“I don’t expect most of the things I try to work out as planned. I’m interested in learning from what happens and applying the lessons to the next attempt.”

“As a leader, I’m more worried about colleagues who have an idea but who don’t have the courage to push for it than I am about colleagues who push for an idea that fails.”

The CEO of Coca-Cola recently instructed his colleagues, “If we’re not mistaking mistakes, we’re not trying hard enough.” As a philosophy of innovation and change, do you…

“I’d rather be part of an organization or team that aims high and misses the mark than an organizations that plays it safe and achieves its goals.”

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