Article: How do you make leaders ready for the future of work?

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How do you make leaders ready for the future of work?

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There is more to preparing your leaders than merely skills and competencies.
How do you make leaders ready for the future of work?

Increased competition, globalization, a focus on optimization, tacking high customer expectations, and digitization are making “continuous change” the new normal for businesses. This means leadersneed to adapt and evolve. There is a need for a new leadership paradigm which will be critical for building and sustaining present and future leadership.

According to one definition by CCL, “Future readiness is about getting ahead of the curve. Future readiness brings together the right mindset and skill set to constantly get ahead, supported by having context relevant business and operating models which they review and revise constantly.”

Are businesses ready? 

One study shows that no more than 41% of organizations believe L&D programs at any leader level – from emerging and front- line all the way to the executive level – are effective.

Leadership readiness for the future starts with HR and business leaders proactively identifying much-needed leadership skills. Strategic thinking, influence, change-adaptability, creative thinking, empathy, cognitive abilities- these are only some of the critical future leadership skills. But HR’s role does not end with merely identifying these competencies and building competencies. HR leaders must frame a comprehensive leadership blueprint to sustain future leaders.

The leadership blueprint

HR leaders must focus on overcoming faultlines. ‘Faultlines’ are transition points in leadership careers where leaders cannot be successful if they rely only on skills and behaviors they used successfully in the past. Some examples of fault lines include moving from an individual contributor to a people-manager role, moving from an operational/tactical role to a strategic role, moving from strategy-execution to formulation.

The leadership blueprint for future success must not only help identify future leaders but also help them achieve greater proficiency in existing skills while building new skills. As a part of this, people must be trained to be aware of and better manage derailers. The leadership blueprint must take into account business as well as cultural challenges, both internal and external. According to DDI, Some factors to consider while building the leadership blueprint are: 

  • Experience

  • Knowledge

  • Personal attributes

  • Competencies

Tips to be future ready

A leadership blueprint should serve as the “guiding light,” but the execution is what will define leadership success.

  1. Upskill and reskill: Make learning an organizational way of life. And create avenues for top-rung leaders to re-skill and re-learn especially in new-age areas such as technology, social, and media.

    According to one report, only 10% of board members surveyed report having professional technology experience. Make lifelong learning a habit at every level. Leverage digital learning channels such as mobile-based learning, micro-learning, massive open online courses (MOOCs).Cultivate a learning culture to bring about a mindset change. 

  2. Redesign work and align talent: The nature of work is changing, and future leaders must keep pace with these changes including‘anytime, anywhere’ work. HR must study how the impact of flexibility, autonomy, and continuous learning effect work processes and practices. This, in turn, can help the HR leaders to strategize about the future of work in the context of the company and the job role.

  3. Strengthen the talent pipeline and encourage innovation: Future leadership readiness is about thinking long-term and planning ahead. Succession planning must incorporate elements of coaching and mentoring, employee development, productivity enhancement, career pathing, new ways of working etc.,

    Exposure to new markets, and equipping your team will cross skilling opportunities will play a key role. According to one survey, 72% of respondents expressed that the need for globally mobile employees will increase during the next two to three years.

    Innovation is critical if you want to outwit change. The leadership development program must encourage people to experiment and explore by building a culture of trust and collaboration.

  4. Align talent processes: The above elements can be achieved only when talent processes are in sync with the new leadership outlook. Whether it is the learning agenda or performance management, HR must work towards integrating the new leadership-focus into all the HR processes and workflows. 

While processes and implementations are one half of the equation, bringing about a mindset change is tough. Preparing your leaders for the future calls for a mindset change not only at the top but at the organization-wide level. 

HR must enable employees to think about the future by helping them unlock his or her potential – first individually and then collectively. This will require a high degree of collaboration and joint efforts from all the stakeholders. It will also require significant resources and sponsorship from current leaders. Sustaining future leadership success is amongst the most important leadership-mandates, it is also the most challenging. 


Click here to read about how technology can help your HR team navigate the future of work.

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Topics: Employee Relations, #Lets Talk Talent, #HRIndustry

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