28 january 2022





THE FUTURE LEADER !!



Leaders of today are required to be more competitive than ever before because of the current conditions in which they need to operate. They are tested with a different set of challenges, especially in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. Many aspects like multiple generational cohorts at the workplace, technological advancements threatening loss of jobs, workplace changes with focus on a hybrid model and more, that need to be taken care of.





To address these challenges and ways of overcoming them seamlessly, I see that the focus of the leader would be a lot different from the past.


The renewed focus of leadership


The first part of ‘Future Leader’ model focuses on the emphasis of values over skills for a leader. We witness at workplaces today, that the leaders that succeed are one’s who demonstrate empathy and understanding of their team. They are flexible and open to ideas by fostering a culture of collaboration.


While possessing technical and people skills are of profound importance, value-based leadership will be something to reckon with. With a need for quick decision making, instantaneous adaptation to change, etc, leaders will be in a vantage position to make decisions because of their values of integrity, ethics, vibrant attitude and a charismatic demeanor. Further, I see that with the advent of gig economy, skill requirements would also change and not be relevant for longer durations as in the past. Hence, I place values over skills and see the need for more time to be invested accordingly (as shown in the Future Leader graphic below).


Leaders will need to perform well in three main areas - Walk the talk with Integrity, Demonstrate Strategic agility and Be Analytical.


Integrity:

Integrity was always a prerequisite for leadership and it has just got bigger. Leaders are now required to be trusted advisors as well and someone who fosters congenial work relationships and team cohesiveness. Now-a-days we are beginning to see professionals from non-frontline functions taking on top leadership positions in organisations as they have proven abilities as a 'talent custodian'. In addition, great leaders of today are one’s who are nimble in their thinking by determining organisational policies that weave in well with the overall objectives. All the above becomes a reality with great networking and collaboration within their teams.


Strategic:

A leader, focused and strategic in their thinking, will find it easier to partner business and transform every function in the organisation into virtual profit centers. Understanding the needs of all stake holders is very important – customers, associates, vendors and shareholders. Traditional thinking or silo-based thoughts wouldn’t go a long way. During these changing times we see so many leaders who transformed their business models by foraying into unique businesses and uncharted territories only because of their strategic agility.


Analytical:

Being analytical with the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning) or RPA (Robotic Process Automation) could be the way forward. Leaders, being tech-savvy can go a long way in ensuring optimum usage of these tech tools for better productivity. However, let’s make no mistake that automation would solve our future challenges as such. Leaders will need to act more in advisory or consultancy capacities to enhance their overall performance.


The one main people behaviour that runs past all the above needs of a leader is to embed an ‘emotional touch’ in their role. This will help them to stay connected and engaged with the team.


This is an important aspect of Future Leadership requirements especially as we rely more on automation. Demonstrating a blend of hi-tech and high touch in their actions would help them be successful.


I see this model satisfying the three 'I's' of what a great leader would want to accomplish:


1. To INFLUENCE their team or followers in an impacting manner.

2. To INTEGRATE modern technology with people capabilities.

3. To INCLUDE a work culture that is diverse.


So, are you ready to be a future leader?