If disruption is the order of the day, what about the people leading companies? What are some things that leaders need to know? In the last decade, businesses have undergone a transformational shift – moving from traditional business models to one that integrates digital technology. Companies are leveraging big data, analytics, cloud and artificial intelligence to drive disruptive change in the marketplace. They are also experimenting with skill sharing and profit sharing arrangements, online marketplaces, digital marketing initiatives and people strategies that drive recruitment and engagement through social and mobile technology.
The future of digital technologies will impact the design of work through cognitive, physical and collaborative augmentation while combining high capacity networks and advanced modeling. In this article, we take a look at some of the latest research on some of the skills that matter:
Capacity to understand technological trends: The digital era requires leaders to be able to articulate the shift across different sectors across robotics, big data, cloud computing, and automation. Mikolaj Firlej, and Artur Kluz in their article on leaders in the digital age posit that leaders should know their limits and should know how to plug the missing knowledge that they lack.
Articulating or framing change: In the digital era which is being dubbed as “the fourth industrial revolution”, disruption enabled by automation and analytics is already replacing jobs at scale. IT major, Wipro recently deployed its AI technology that would eventually free up 3000 jobs. It is situations like this that leaders need to step up to tackle the incessant fear-mongering that any change process is linked to. It is the responsibility of a leader to articulate the change in a positive light. Even when a number of legacy systems and jobs were replaced during the first industrial revolution, the outcome of such transformative change led to opportunities elsewhere. The role of a leader is to articulate this change in a positive light and not as a threat.
Be a collaborator and co-create: Leaders are no longer commander-in-chief. They are required to be active collaborators, communicators, and co-creators. Barry Libert, Jerry Wind and Megan Beck Fenley in their research on the types of leadership styles point out that open and agile companies are able to tackle change more effectively compared to companies where “all insight and direction comes from the top. In short, the autocratic Commander, whether brilliant or misguided, just won’t cut it anymore”
Companies that are at the forefront of change have leaders that know how to leverage digital technologies to identify potentially new sources of value and business models. They also understand the changing nature of customer centricity – where customers are more informed and want to play an active role in designing a product or service. Another change element central to transformation is the changed expectations of the employees – whereby they want to be more empowered and given opportunities to collaborate and co-create instead of just being told what to do.