What is the future of work? What will it look like, especially with the more widespread adoption of trends such as the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence?
According to experts, there will be a shift in specialised skills and capabilities in demand for the future workplace; we will use more emotional and social skills, while the predictable or physical activities such as gathering and processing data will be left to machines. Other trends such as globalisation, mobility and contingent workforce are expected to bring drastic changes to the work environment as we know it.
Those aspiring to lead must bear in mind that there is a great responsibility and need to understand the skills required in the future workplace and to equip themselves accordingly.
Here are our seven must-have leadership skills you need in the future of work.
1. Understand Technology
Business as we know it is being impacted immensely by technology. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain technology have been predicted to change the way we live, work and do business. Consumer tastes and expectations are also constantly changing with emerging technologies.
As a leader, it is crucial to have a very good understanding of how these technologies will impact your business and the changes your organisation might need to make to accommodate them, so as to remain relevant in business.
You must be able to make sense of data, spot opportunities and leverage on opportunities offered by technology.
2. Manage Man/Machine Collaboration
With the impact of technological disruptions, we are seeing more automation and more human-machine collaboration. Leaders must adapt leadership styles to manage a human-robot workplace.
While humans still work in roles where human traits such as creativity, innovation, imagination and empathy are required, machines and robots will take on roles that are routine or repetitive.
For example, while you need a customer service person to pacify an angry customer, receiving payments and checking-out can be handled by machines in a retail environment. Leaders must be able to manage this work combination effectively to achieve results.
3. People Building
As people work more often with machines and robots, it becomes necessary that you learn new skills to manage the collaboration effectively. Leaders need to develop themselves in this regard and support others to continually upskill, by receiving the training that helps them work alongside machines and also develop their cognitive skills for functions that machines cannot perform.
4. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is one of the most crucial skills you will be expected to have in the near future. According to Skills Academy, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your effect on others and manage yourself accordingly.
Most of today’s leaders understand that the days of authoritative and overbearing leadership are long gone, and leaders are expected to be emphatic, caring and listening to people.
The core of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, as it is impossible to develop an understanding of others if you don’t understand your own motivations and behaviours.
To attract and retain the best people, emotional intelligence is a must. Employees no longer work in one organisation for thirty or forty years until retirement and people will easily quit jobs where they don’t see empathy and understanding.
5. Adaptability to Constant Change
Change is a constant phenomenon. However, the rate of change and disruption brought on by technology in recent times has been massive. As the digital revolution continues, consumer expectations keep evolving and businesses have to stay ahead of such changes.
For example, commercetools, a cloud-based retail platform underwent an innovation project which allowed the business to add new customer touchpoints, which are 90% faster than before.
The company’s chief technology officer explained that customers now shop with multiples devices which traditional web shop solutions cannot support, and omnichannel sales and logistics are now must-haves for customer loyalty and retention. We must be willing to continuously adapt to industry changes that will boost revenue.
6. Diversity and Inclusion
The future workplace is expected to be more diverse and inclusive, bringing people together regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, personality, beliefs or geographical location. Research has shown that diverse workplaces tend to be more successful and future leaders must have a good understanding of all forms of diversity and how best to manage it for the workplace be effective. It is important to have in place hiring policies that encourage inclusion and also build a work environment that addresses major needs of different types of people.
An example of a company that is big on diversity is Shell, one of the worlds largest petrochemical companies, which believes that an inclusive work environment is a key to innovating, developing and retaining talent.
Shell’s people are its top priority. Throughout the organisation, several support networks have been established to bring Shell’s diverse workforce together and leverage their talents to the benefit of the business. With a range of objectives, including supporting and promoting business initiatives internally and externally, encouraging a healthier lifestyle and supporting personal and professional development, these communities help foster a company-wide culture of acceptance and mutual respect.
Motivational skills will play a big role in the future because most people are less likely to stay in a job for too long, and are more likely to leave in times of adversity.
The good news is that we now know a thing or two about what motivates us the most and lead to greater job satisfaction.
Researchers studying the correlation between motivation and performance have established that there are sweeter incentives worth dangling. The key to motivation is to hone in on three deeply human needs – autonomy, mastery, and purpose.