The consistent challenge of leadership is to understand the future state that an organisation needs be successful. Here are some thoughts by Glenn Llopis in Forbes.

“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” Albert Einstein said that, but we don’t need to be geniuses to implement new thinking in business. We only need real leadership that’s innovative and courageous enough to evolve and take action now. That’s how we close the growing opportunity gaps within the three pillars of workplace/workforce, external partnerships and the marketplace/consumer. We must see these opportunities everywhere every day and anticipate the unexpected, sow those opportunities and unleash our passionate pursuits, grow those opportunities with a strategic focus and entrepreneurial spirit, and share opportunities with a generous purpose. That’s how we reinvent leadership for the 21 st century and sustain growth.

And it starts by asking one question: What are we solving for?

This is the third of five articles to help you understand what is required to answer the question and compete in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace across a variety of industries. The articles detail the insights and frontline experiences shared by leaders of the roundtables at my June 2015 Executive Summit, “Preparing U.S. Leadership for the Seismic Cultural Demographic Shift.” The first article featured Earvin “Magic” Johnson, chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and Mike Fernandez, chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners. Both use their entrepreneurial spirit and passionate pursuits of excellence to fuel business innovation that most U.S. corporations don’t see. That article - and all six in this series - shows how the Cultural Demographic Shift represents a natural evolution of American enterprise and its business models.

Companies that are run in traditional ways are suffering. Top-down, hierarchical, departmentally siloed, purely profit-driven - these are organizations where talent development is an after-thought and leadership is on a path to extinction.

At a time when it’s becoming less about the business defining the individual and more about the individual defining the business, employees at these companies are still made to feel they must check their authentic selves at the door and conform to the company way of doing things. They stay because their marketable skills grow stale and less transferable, not out of any sense of loyalty or opportunity for growth.

Into this scenario comes the influence of the cultural demographic shift, telling us that the 21st century workplace is one where people seek to express their true identity - in a community-minded, boundary-less environment that encourages individuality and creates new types of opportunities for the betterment of a healthier whole.

The cultural demographic shift is fueling a paradigm shift in the workplace where it’s all about recognizing the unique differences in how people think, act and innovate. Diversity of thought creates “constructive disruption” that can influence new ways of thinking, new innovation and new initiatives. When the template that leaders and their companies have followed to drive growth for years begins to change, sustaining any competitive advantage becomes difficult.

A lively roundtable discussion about the 21st century workplace included not just HR executives, but business unit managers who will have a heavy influence on talent and leadership development going forward under the influence of the cultural shift.

We discussed the traditional workplace, very siloed and disconnected, which fuels miscommunication and misunderstanding, and where everyone is impelled to become a specialist of some sort. We asked ourselves, how do we move toward the 21st century workplace of the future, where departments are more interconnected, people talk across the aisle and are more personally branded than ever before? It’s a major transformation in which the workplace is becoming more transient, more mobile, more flexible, and much more diverse.

Lou Mercado, VP, Inventory Management at CVS Health (summit host and a key sponsor) is passionate about developing leaders for the 21st century workplace. He is particularly wary of falling into the trap of becoming a specialist, at a time when serving the cultural demographic shift requires a workforce made up more of generalists.

In explaining his role, Lou says: “It’s our responsibility in inventory management to understand the changing marketplace. So we spend a lot of time talking about the customer and customer-facing issues.”