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Feb. 25

People management challenges in a new decade or Leadership 4.0

The pace of business never has been faster. Disruptive change is now the norm. Navigating successfully these storms of change does not happen through controlling and directing. Managers in 2020 simply don’t have all the answers. There is no one method or solution that fits all business models. Organizations will have to come up with unique solutions in order to successfully adapt. That is why leaders have to unleash creativity, energy, strengths and commitment. 

Technologies are becoming an indispensable part of our life. Innovation has impacted each and every business whether it is directly related to IT or not. The style of leadership and the way companies are managed are no exception. Currently, the academic community and company consultants are speaking about a new business management style – the Leadership 4.0. Its strategy and concept are linked with the fourth industrial revolution, the Industry 4.0.

Nowadays we pay most of our attention to technologies and leave people in the background. Most employees are worried that innovations will take over their jobs. In this situation, an important role can be played by the Leadership 4.0, since it is able to easily relieve the accumulated tension. 

Leadership seems to be intertwined with and rooted in the purpose, values and authenticity of the organization. This creates a sense of trust between individuals and teams when it comes to successfully meeting complex challenges. And there is no shortage of then in today’s business. Leaders and managers must earn the loyalty, dedication and enthusiasm of their people.

We’re always talking about the future, but it’s already here. The goal is to boost productivity, and it needs to be done here and now. There is no one method or solution for goal achievement that fits all business models. Organizations and their leaders will have to come up with unique solutions in the future in order to successfully adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Most of our beliefs are formed in early childhood and work subconsciously. They affect our reality through emotions which are responsible for most of our decisions. This is why leaders must constantly question themselves about the meaning of what they do.

How does leadership impact organisations?

Leadership is not limited to a narrow circle of senior executives. Leadership also extends to the lower levels – employees also need to lead. This can be called “distributed leadership”. We will witness more examples of leaders and leadership in the future. They will not be the usual, traditional roles, assigned in accordance with the organizational hierarchy.

Which would you say should be dominant (as both are really important) part of the good company leader – deep knowledge and experience in the particular field connected to the company (eg. former chicken farmer becoming CEO of big poultry company) or deep knowledge and experience with various people and fields of industry.

Thanks for another great question. You rightly say that both are really important. So, it is essential that both are present in the senior leadership team. The real art is to assemble the right executive teams for the future, where the members then also work and lead effectively together. Supporting leadership teams in this journey is one of the things we do in Avvartes.

It is human to assume that what worked in the past, also will work in the future. That is not necessarily true nowadays. That is why we need to be careful with just copying best practices. 

When CEO’s or senior HR leaders are thinking about the profile of open positions in the leadership team, it is important to think about the profile of the team first in context of the future challenges and the direction you want to go. Then you make sure that whoever you bring in, brings the experience and competences the team / the organization needs. Senior teams certainly need to be diverse and complementary. They also need to understand what makes a senior team high performing and high impactful.

How does the learning process change the life of an organization? Do the leaders and the staff distinguish between learning and mentoring?

Nowadays leaders must be good teachers and coaches. When I watch from a distance, I notice that this leadership style is not easily mastered by most leaders. Many became leaders because they “knew the answers to the questions” at the right time. The key to learning is asking questions. Essentially, training and mentoring is about trusting either the person or the team you are leading.

There are multiple definitions of learning and mentoring. My approach is very simple: teaching is task-oriented, while mentoring is more about career development.

The workforce marketplace is creating new working models, while disrupting the old ones. Almost none of the progressive business want to be strict enterprises with traditional old-style hierarchy. But where will it lead us? What is the direction of it in the new decade? Could you share your prediction how the hierarchy it the workplace will evolve?

Our traditional organizations are ‘command and control’. And as the world became more complex, we introduced matrix-type organizations, often with even more rules and control. The future looks very different. Instead of ‘command and control’, the senior leadership gives direction in context of what the company is offering to the customers and creates an environment in which people are empowered.  In these ‘agile’ organizations we see less middle management and more self-management. We also see more small, flexible and empowered teams. Companies will need to learn much faster than is now the case. Many companies are experimenting with Employee Experience; putting your people at the heart, creating ‘WOW-moments’ for your people. It is worthwhile for leaders to dive into this topic, to understand what is happening and to think about whether and if so, how this could make sense for their organizations. 

What are the most important links you have observed between emotional intelligence (EI) and the modern leader? How will these links change in the future?

Dr. Travis Bradberry and Dr. Jean Greaves describe emotional intelligence as “a personal ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions and those of others, and to consciously use the resulting knowledge in the management of one’s relationships and actions”. We live in extraordinary times for many reasons. One of them is that every day new insights emerge that help us to improve leadership. For example, a study by Korn Ferry Hay Group, a global management consulting firm working with enterprises and organizations, found that “92% of teams with a strong sense of EI had a very strong positive energy and a high level of productivity. Great leaders create a positive emotional climate that motivates employees and encourages them to put in some extra effort. Conversely, the study discovered that 78% of teams whose leaders demonstrated a low level of EI suffered from a negative emotional climate.”

There is much more evidence that high EI results in high performance. The good news is that EI can be developed regardless of age. Lifelong learning is a must, so leaders and those who would like to lead “should first learn about themselves”.

What is the connection between leadership and artificial intelligence (AI)? How will AI affect leadership in the future?

Leaders are committed to taking steps and appropriate actions to help a business or organization thrive in the future.  This is their destination, and AI will be even more useful in this journey in the future. It should also be noted that AI is not the future, it is a present-day reality. For example, AI is already used in recruitment processes, systematization of data within an organization, planning a new product launch, and so on. Leaders, through their different structures and ways of working, must use AI wisely in an attempt to encourage the team to be more creative. It is important to clarify the goal of the team in this process and build trust between the leader and the team. These are the key factors in effectively leading an organisation during and after the Industry 4.0 revolution.

Experts say that more and more traditional jobs will be replaced by technology. Technology has already changed the work dynamics, but how will it change HR management in the next decade? 

Indeed, new technology and AI already is here and there is much more to come. This will facilitate for our organizations to become more ‘agile’. This means faster learning, different structures, different ways of working, changes in our traditional remuneration strategies, stimulating innovation and creativity, more self-management and less middle-management, different governance and new ways of building and developing careers. A whole lot of work for HR management. This is a very different department to the traditional HR-departments we know. It would be well reflected by changing the name from Human Resources into Human Capital. 

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