What does the future of leadership hold? The future of work has become a recurrent topic and a famous one in the last year following the pandemic. It is evident that the pandemic disrupted a lot of industries and how we had always viewed work. We have discussed the future of work severally here at Rensyl Integral through articles and workshops. In its many dynamic forms, work as we now know it, is fluid, meaning, people have adapted to the ‘new normal’ which now ceases to be new but the norm. As we talk about the future of work and the new trends at the workplace, we cannot do this successfully without a look at the ‘future of leadership’.
Meaning of leadership
Leadership means different things to a lot of people but my definition of leadership is one who inspires change, has a vision and takes the first initiative to act towards the vision. Being a leader is not the same thing as being a manager or supervisor or even being a chief executive officer. In other words, simply because someone is holding an office doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good leader. Whether someone is a good or bad leader or whether leaders are born or made is a topic for another day.
What does the future of leadership mean? The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital age highlights that executives around the world are out of touch with what it will take to win, and to lead, in the digital economy. Digitalization, upstart competitors, the need for breakneck speed and agility, and an increasingly diverse and demanding workforce require more from leaders than what most can offer.
Although a significant segment of the current generation of leaders might be out of touch, they still have control — over strategic decisions, who gets hired and promoted, and the culture of their organizations — but not for long. The need for change is urgent, and time is running out for leaders who are holding on to old ways of working and leading.
The nature and course of leadership is changing and there is a need for the leaders to adapt. What might have worked before in leadership might need adjustments and or new strategies. Employees are now enlightened on trends around the future of work and are now more than ever vocal about their non-negotiables in the workplaces. It is the leaders’ role to ensure they cultivate cultures that are acceptable to their employees, to come up with new strategies that are accommodative of the employees’ work-life balance.
As digitalization and other critical factors influence the nature of work and ways of working, we discovered that what it means to be a successful leader is evolving. Leaders must modify their attitudes and beliefs about what leadership looks and feels like if they want to produce behavior change that lasts over time. As our world and the nature of work fundamentally changes, leaders must consider necessary new skills and accompanying mindset shifts.
4 mindsets for future leaders
Just like explorers of old who ventured to new lands, future leaders need to bring their employees and organizations to the uncharted future. Explorers are curious, open to new ideas, and agile enough to change directions when their original plan hits a roadblock. This mindset forces the pursuit of new ideas, products, services, and methods of doing things. It also means becoming a perpetual learner.
Great chefs are experts at balancing ingredients to create perfectly flavored dishes. Similarly, leaders of the future need to balance the two most important ingredients in any business: humanity and technology. The human side of work is all of the issues relating to people. This is where things like employee experience, relationships, loyal customers and social impact come from. The other ingredient is technology, which includes all aspects of how work gets done, including software, devices and automation. This is where things like efficiency, productivity, speed and decision-making take place. Companies need both aspects working in tandem to be successful.
For decades, leaders gave instructions from the top of hierarchical pyramids. Successful future leaders will be on the ground working with their employees in the trenches and lifting their people up. The mindset of the servant manifests in four ways, including service to your leaders and building strong relationships with the people above you. It means making their lives easier, working in a partnership, and realizing that they are human just like you. Service to your team is supporting the people around you to make them more successful than you. Leaders with this mindset recognize their employees’ work and make them feel valued and engaged.
The Global Citizen
As the world becomes more connected, every company becomes a global company with the potential for customers and employees around the globe. To succeed in the future, leaders must adopt the mindset of the global citizen. It comes down to this: could you still lead effectively if you were plucked from your current situation and placed in a new country, culture, or department?
As we talk about the future of work, it is important to highlight the role of leaders in creating organizational structures and cultures that enable great working environments. There needs to be a shift in leadership mindsets.
At Rensyl Integral, we help organizations and leaders build their organizational culture and develop futuristic strategies that enable them to grow and thrive in the digital age.