We are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, usually referred to as Industry 4.0, FIR or 4IR. It started in manufacturing and other technical industries with the implementation of IoT devices and intelligent AI systems. Smart systems are utilized throughout the whole value chain, with data being collected, stored and analyzed at each point. This makes it possible to adapt to changing demands quickly and eliminate defects before they become a major issue.
This novel way of doing things has spread above and beyond manufacturing plants and into business operations in general. Leaders have realized that adopting new technology isn’t enough – they have to adopt new leadership and people strategies too.
What Leadership 4.0 Should be About
The new role of leadership, dubbed Leadership 4.0, will be a mix of traditional and agile leadership blended with diversity and ethical responsibility. The main role will be to form interconnected teams that will be able to respond to changes quickly, and that will have a sense of purpose and the goal to succeed in anything they set their minds to. The new leaders will be the carriers of a vision of betterment that will inspire everyone else.
How Traditional Leadership Skills Blend with Agile
While many argue that traditional leadership is obsolete, this is not the case – traditional skills of a leader have become the basic skills every new leader needs:
- Effective leadership
- Management skills
- Ability to inspire others
Agile leadership is able to adapt to new and changing strategies concerning business operations and employee management. They easily adapt to the new needs of the workforce, such as flexible schedules and teamwork, and have no issues with multi-generational teams.
Diversity is much more than having employees from diverse backgrounds – it’s about the diversity of opinions, ideas, and perspectives too. New leaders should look for employees who are not afraid to disagree and offer an alternative approach. Such employees will contribute much more than those who blindly agree with everything. They will challenge existing concepts and offer improvements that will benefit the business as a whole.
Leadership 4.0 is about Continuous Learning
It’s up to new leaders to ensure their employees are up to date on the new technologies that are implemented. They play a big role in eliminating concern about disappearing jobs due to automation of business processes. Instead of trying to find new employees to fill new roles, they focus on closing the skill gap by providing learning opportunities to existing employees.
Investing in technology like cloud computing helps to learn new skills and fosters collaboration. A program as simple as OneDrive can improve employee satisfaction by helping create a more flexible schedule and better opportunities to truly work as a team.
It can be used as a means to store files online, share and access them from anywhere. It can even be integrated into learning management systems to help close the skill gaps found in multi-generational working environments.
All of this is becoming an integral part of leadership instead of being offered as a company perk.
How Personality Became More Important Than Skills
Leaders are focusing more on personality traits than skills now. They are looking for people who are willing to learn new things and can easily work with others and have good problem-solving skills.
A good leader will look for those traits within the existing workforce and inspire such individuals to become the main driving force behind embracing changes.
Such individuals will inspire others who might be reluctant about the new ways to see the benefits of learning new skills and adapt to changing workplace demands.
Fostering Engagement and Embracing Changes
Employee engagement has become the central focusing point of new leaders – in addition to the diversity of opinions, engaged employees are the main driving force behind innovation. Keeping employees engaged is also one of the biggest issues for leaders – after a while, engagement takes a nosedive.
Leadership 4.0 approach to engagement doesn’t focus on incentives, but the vision. Leaders sell the vision and inspire employees to follow. A Leader 4.0 empowers their employees: the leader provides and welcomes feedback, delegates but also follows up, and works towards closing the existing skill gaps through giving continuous education opportunities and the right tools to their employees, with the final aim to offer something that will make the world a better place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon