Leadership & The Future of Work

In today’s rapidly changing world, the required skills of leaders in every profession are consistently evolving. Factors such as new technologies, global disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and a perpetual environment of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous), are transforming the way we work, insisting that leaders develop skills that enable them to navigate these disruptions effectively. Those skills include:

  • Creativity
  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Encouraging diversity of thought
  • Collaboration

Let’s take a look at why these skills are critical for today’s leaders who are building the future of work, and ways that organizations can help their leaders acquire these increasingly important leadership skills.

The Critical “Power” Skills Business Leaders Need to Thrive in Today’s Environment

  • Creativity. In a world where new technologies and business models are disrupting traditional industries, creativity is the key to innovation and staying ahead of the competition. Leaders who can think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems will be the ones who will thrive in this environment.
  • Adaptability.  Leaders who are able to pivot quickly when necessary, can more easily navigate disruptions and respond quickly to changing circumstances, ensuring that their organizations remain relevant and competitive.
  • Empathy. Leaders who can connect with their employees authentically, and look to understand their needs and aspirations, will be the ones who can attract and retain the best talent. Empathetic leaders are ones who create a culture of trust and collaboration, which can help their organizations thrive.
  • Encouraging Diversity of Thought. Solutions often come from diverse perspectives, and leaders who can foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, create a culture of innovation and growth; which not only improves trust and psychological safety – it can also help their organizations stay ahead of the curve with fresh ideas and insights. 
  • Collaboration. Complex problems require diverse skill sets and expertise, and fostering a collaborative team environment is critical. Leaders who can bring together teams of people with different backgrounds and experiences can achieve more significant results than those who problem-solve or make decisions in isolation. Leaders who can create a culture of collaboration and teamwork can help their organizations achieve their goals more effectively and efficiently.

Fostering Critical Leadership Skills

These concepts are talked about frequently in today’s business world and in theory, they may seem easy enough to teach, but in practice, they can be much more challenging than we may realize. Luckily, organizational development and neuroscience research have provided us with guidelines for how we can foster the development of these critical skills. Kinesthetic hands-on learning experiences, longitudinal program design, and creative integration are techniques that have consistently shown to be most effective in helping leaders develop the skills they need to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world.

  • Kinesthetic hands-on learning experiences, for example, allow leaders to learn by doing, rather than simply reading or hearing about a concept. This approach can be especially effective for developing skills such as adaptability and creativity, as it allows leaders to practice and refine these skills in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Longitudinal program design is another technique that can be useful for developing and retaining critical skills over time. By designing programs that are ongoing, and built on previous learning, leaders can develop skills gradually, such as harnessing empathy, diversity of thought, and team collaboration, in a way that is sustainable and meaningful.
  • Creative integration is also an effective technique for developing critical skills. By integrating creative techniques such as art and music into leadership development programs, leaders can tap into their creativity and develop skills such as adaptability and empathy in a way that is engaging and fun.

The required skills of leaders across the business and not-for-profit sectors are changing quickly. Many of the so-called “soft” skills that we’ve discussed have previously been dismissed as unimportant when compared to traditional “hard” business skills. However, as the world of business and work continues to change, and more and more job activities become automated, “soft skills,” which cannot yet be replicated by machines, have become more important.” Companies across the board will need to develop strategies to help their leaders and teams develop these increasingly critical skills, more appropriately referred to as ‘power skills’.