Leadership Development

The Kind of Leaders You Need to Face Disruption

By ROHEI
4 June 2019

In a Nutshell

  • Changing roles and shifts in the workplace are expected to happen at a much faster pace

  • The workplace of the future will see less and less of traditional leadership styles

  • Leaders need to develop flexibility and relational competencies to be able to adapt and be effective in Industry 4.0

With disruption as the new norm, changing roles in the workplace are a given. But in the coming years, these shifts are expected to happen at a much faster pace. Disruption, it seems, is just getting started.

What does this mean for leadership?

Leaders will need to be able to manage people amidst rapid the evolution of roles.

World Economic Forum christened the age of disruption “Industry 4.0”. What changes can we anticipate, and how do we prepare our leaders for the next chapter of Industry 4.0?

 

Workplace shifts in Industry 4.0

 

Rapid evolution of roles

People’s roles at the workplace will be shifting and evolving rapidly in the next few years, bumping up the need for re-skilling.

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2018 says that: “Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. However, 38% of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise.”

The same report highlights that by 2022 almost half of the workforce will be affected by re-skilling: “By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling.”

“75 million jobs may be displaced by the above trends, while 133 million additional new roles may emerge concurrently,” the report says.

Learning agility will be a key component for workers to successfully adapt to these shifts.

“The workforce demands will create new jobs where interchangeable skills will be required, and workers will need to demonstrate a high level of learning agility,” HR Zone says in What Will Leadership Look Like in The Future.

 

Increased demand for ‘human’ skills

As automation replaces administrative tasks, workers will shift their energies towards activities that require complex thinking as well as people skills.

High value activities such as problem-solving, persuasion, creative and critical thinking are beyond the capabilities of software or machines. “For workers, improved productivity may allow them to re-focus their work on high-value activities that play to the distinctive strengths of being human,” The World Economic Forum says.

Workplaces will thus have less demand for transactional and cognitive based skills, and will retain or develop a greater need for skills such as creativity, analytical thinking and innovation, resilience, flexibility, and complex problem solving.

“Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence as well as service orientation also see an outsized increase in demand relative to their current prominence,” the World Economic Forum says.

 

The implication of the workplace shifts on leadership

What this means for leaders is:

1. Leaders will need to create an optimal environment for learning and innovation, to allow teams to develop learning agility and adaptability on the job.

2. Because of the job role shifts, leaders need to be able to support their teams going through change. This requires an ability to relate, to be approachable, and provide guidance and support through frequent transitions.

3. With the greater emphasis on higher value activities, leaders need to formulate new  approaches to motivate output and performance.

  

Industry 4.0 ushers in an evolution of leadership

The leader’s role will be to “connect people and ideas instead of telling people what to do and how they should be working,” HR Zone says.

Traditional leadership styles are being challenged by the evolving workplace. Leaders need to develop flexibility and relational competencies to be able to adapt and be effective in Industry 4.0.

 

Industry 4.0 is moving away from these traditional leadership styles:

 

Command and control leadership

“Command and control leadership will be seen less and will eventually be phased out by natural selection as new generations have a style of leadership that is a product of how they see the world,” HR Zone says.

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization,” the Harvard Business Review says, in In Praise of the Incomplete Leader.

 

The all-around leader

Many leaders today feel that they are expected to have everything figured out. Not only is this an unrealistic expectation, the attempt to be an all-around leader will be counterproductive in the workplace of the future.

“No one person could possibly stay on top of everything. But the myth of the complete leader (and the attendant fear of appearing incompetent) makes many executives try to do just that, exhausting themselves and damaging their organizations in the process," the Harvard Business Review says. “It’s time to end the myth of the complete leader: the flawless person at the top who’s got it all figured out.”

 

The know-it-all leader

“Leaders will not be able to exert power through position or expertise, as the need to know everything diminishes. This means the ability to bring out the best in their people, working ‘with’ them as opposed to ‘for’ them will be critical to their success as a leader,” HR Zone says.

Read more about Leadership Competencies that Matter Most in a VUCA World.

 

A portrait of the Industry 4.0 leader:

The need to be less instructive and more facilitative is good news for leaders burdened by the perceived need to morph into so-called “superleaders.” What, then, will the leader of the future look like?


More coach-like

A coach is a perfect example of someone who doesn’t tell the player what to do, but focuses on helping them get better at what they are doing. And this is one of the key qualities of the leader of the future.

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance.  It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance.  It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them,” Timothy Gallway says in The Inner Game of Tennis.

In Enabling Change Management Through Coaching, ROHEI’s Executive Coach Chiang Wen-Wei says, “The coach-like leader will have the key ability to create a sense of engagement to be in sync with the team. They have the skill to have better conversations where the future can be co-created. Whenever we all decide to go together, that’s where we will all head.”

Another coach-like quality is asking vs telling. “We have all been educated to search for the right answer to questions or problems, and this has impacted our creativity as we lose our imaginative nature because there has to be one correct answer. Logic teaches us this,” HR Zone says.

As Peter Drucker predicted, “The leader of the past knew how to tell. The leader of the future will know how to ask.”

“Focusing on how to develop the potential of their people, conversations will move to it being about how the employee can be their absolute best, and help them to develop ideas in the workplace as opposed to getting them to work hard to hit performance targets,” HR Zone says.

“Leaders will inspire not through teaching but with their knowledge of how to provide the right experiences, resources, and challenges for their people. Once again it will be about ensuring their leaders are empowered and enabled to lead the way, focusing on positive and strengths based development.”

Read more about Enabling Change Management Through Coaching.


Builds trust

Higher-value activities are more complex to manage. They require creativity, complex problem solving, innovation, learning agility—qualities that are not naturally manifested, and in many cases need to be drawn out and nurtured.

Higher-value activities are more complex to manage. They require creativity, complex problem solving, innovation, learning agility—qualities that are not naturally manifested, and in many cases need to be drawn out and nurtured.

Leadership styles or organisational culture can be either a barrier or an enabler of these high-value skills.

“The move away from the ‘checking of competence’ to one of ‘trust and empowerment’ will be a shift across all organisations, along with a move away from ‘performance measurement’ to focusing on the ‘whole person’ and how they add value to the organisation,” says HR Zone.

Trust creates a safe space for people to be themselves. Trust is built through relational skills, a leader’s ability to show vulnerability and authenticity, and the courage to have meaningful and difficult conversations.

Relational competencies are key for leaders to effectively build trust with their team and draw out the best in them.

 

People-focused

To lead successfully in a shifting world, leaders need a shift in perspective, in the way they view the workforce.

The workforce sees themselves differently from the way leaders do and leaders need to acknowledge this.

“A leader’s first responsibility is to recognise reality,” Chris Hogan, ROHEI’s Practice Leader for Coaching, says. “A leader’s job is to get through all the clutter, all the fake news, and all the hidden agendas, all the other people’s realities, and to be able to sift through and go, what is really happening here?”

“Future generations of employees will expect to be treated like leaders. They will want trust, autonomy and independence,” HR Zone says.

If leaders continue to view people as resources, output generators, they will not be able to guide them into realising their potential. Leaders need to see their workforce as unique individuals with different triggers and distinct motivators.

If leaders continue to view people as resources, output generators, they will not be able to guide them into realising their potential. Leaders need to see their workforce as unique individuals with different triggers and distinct motivators.

“Leaders need to know that everyone has gifts to offer, and honor the responsibility of each to bring those gifts,” Inc. says in 5 Leadership Skills for a More Sustainable World.

 As technology continues to shape our world, leadership with a strong focus on people is critical for organisational growth and agility.

Read more about Leadership Competencies that Matter Most in a VUCA World.

 

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