B2B Leaders of Tomorrow
For many of us, our vision of the future is inspiring, filled with new technologies and new opportunities, but for some professions, the future these technologies foreshadow doesn't look as bright.
Industrial robots have evolved from dangerous industrial machines into smart, connected robots. They can analyse data more efficiently and make quick decisions to optimise production. Today, a cobot's arm can have seven-axes making it easy to replicate the human arm motion to move objects at a desired speed. This agility gives car manufacturers an extraordinary level of customisation to change everything from the car body components to the car seat type.
Cutting-edge technology will continue to absorb and automate repetitive tasks usually done by humans. It will redistribute labour across vertical market segments, and this is likely to cause additional economic disturbances. However, when adopting new technologies, we tend to narrow our view and lose sight of the human aspect. Though technology alters how work is done and who does it, most human to machine interface activities will still rely on people to program new and different things, such as programming a cobot's arm to complete a specific task or train a chatbot to provide better customer service. Therefore, even when cutting-edge technology is implemented, people play specific roles which won't change in the future.
Organisations and leaders who view technology as a tool to automate processes and displace its workforce may see short-term gains but will miss the full potential since technology's power should be to complement human proficiency, not replace humans. Naturally, the adoption of cutting-edge technology requires a strategic approach. The relevance of various disruptive technologies requires both human and technological capabilities because what comes naturally to humans (like humour) can be tricky for robots, but how machines analyse multiple gigabyte data remains nearly impossible for humans.
The same data-driven collaborative intelligence across multiple applications and domains that are crucial for the next generation of cutting-edge technologies to transition from feeble automation to robust automation is also adopted by B2B leaders of tomorrow (collaborative leaders) who embrace collaborative intelligence to improve their operational excellence, business models, and employees' engagement.
We may think that some leadership styles are more effective than others, but the truth is that each leadership style has its place. We will emphasise more on the collaborative leadership style due to them being common today. These are leaders that use a variety of engagement methods, and they brainstorm with their employees before implementing transformation. To fully benefit from collaborative intelligence, organisations should understand:
§ How humans can amplify machines.
§ How machines can intensify what humans do well.
§ How to reshape business processes to support the collaborative intelligence partnership.
§ How to identify the right technology that map business strategies to respond to the shift in customer demand.
The best ideas typically come from groups of people who pool their experience and expertise to further develop the organisation in which they work. These are concepts that reduce costs and improve internal collaboration making the organisation more agile to improve productivity, and to reveal new market opportunities in reaching different customer segments.
Development of Future Skills
Though technology has created more jobs than it has wiped out, about half of the activities (not jobs) carried out by workers could be automated. Some analysts suggest up to 50% of all professions could be automated to the extent that these jobs would finally disappear. While others estimate anywhere from 45%-60% of all European workers could see themselves displaced due to computerisation by 2030.
§ In December 2017, a McKinsey & Company study found that about 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations could be computerised.
§ In February 2018, a global PWC survey found that 37% of workers were worried about the possibility of losing their jobs due to automation.
§ A recent OECD estimates suggest that 14% of all jobs across the 32 OECD countries analysed have a high risk of automation. A further 32% of jobs may experience significant changes in how they are carried out.
It is then no surprise that there are several movies, books and many doomsday predictions on how technology will destroy our world. We've all seen sci-fi movies like The Matrix where robots take over, and humans fight over the remaining ways of life. Technology will continue to evolve and disrupt the workplace and the workforce. Yet, as history unfolded itself, every time new technology or trends arose, there were questions raised around its usage for good or bad. As a result, society as a whole adapts, and this is what we continuously go through to evolve as humans.
It's becoming clear that only good politics and governance will keep this dangerous doomsday scenario from becoming a reality. Politicians cannot disregard scientists and analysts who study this phenomenon. They should open their ears to the call to look for alternatives. We can find a similar phenomenon today in the animal kingdom, in which animals are worth more dead than alive. As long as our economy works in that way and organisations go unregulated, they are going to continue to annihilate animals. Therefore, if our society cannot agree on what is truly right or that there is no such thing as truth, then we can't navigate out of any problem.
As our workplace continues to move from manual labour to online roles requiring more critical thinking and planning, the worker of the future will increasingly have ICT knowledge in areas like programming, creativity, and strategy. Though technology may reduce the pool of available jobs, there are many potential upsides to this transformation. We are in the age of start-ups and technology-driven business with remote workers where innovation allow almost any job to be divided into specific tasks for which workers are paid at a rate determined by the work demand at a given time. Amazon's crowdsourcing service platform called Mturk is an excellent example. Organisations and researchers pay workers ("turkers") to complete minor tasks. Computers cannot do these tasks called Human Intelligence Tasks (or HIT). Tasks such as helping train an algorithm, identifying objects in a picture, transcribing an audio recording, or identify a tweet tone etc. However, the worst-case scenario would be that the wealthy few continue to dominate over the unemployed masses. As always, only public policies and good governance will dictate the trajectories of economic growth and wealth distribution.
As governments and businesses streamline their strategies and pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic, our workforce and work environment will continue to transform. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how dependent we are on digitalisation and on doing all processes online. COVID-19 did more for digitalisation than any government or leader of a large organisation could have ever done. There is no doubt that COVID-19 changed our way of life, and we must now accept living with the pandemic as we survive and strive in the new normal. The pandemic was a real-time test environment, and we acknowledged that on certain aspects, we were ready while on others, we still had work to do. We were more exposed to cyber-attacks, some even lost trust in the media and their government due to fake news. We saw opportunities with COVID-19 in products that suddenly became more in demand such as cleaners or disinfectant products. COVID-19 brought tremendous change to the way we work, the way businesses communicate, collaborate and engage.
Whether new technologies or trends, people and time management remain the most critical operation to balance, is the idea then outdated for millennials to be in the office at 8:30 sharp and get paid by the numbers of hours they spend at their desk? Some may envision the 60/40, 70/30 or 80/20 sales commission rule as a workable option for other departments of an organisation because when an employer sets a salary, they are thinking value not necessarily time. That said, millennials ought to be more purposeful about their profession choice since they are arguably the most blessed generations that can be transformative, not necessarily all in a positive way. They have all the technological access, on-demand self-learning capabilities and extreme social networking. They are the largest generation in the workplace, and they have joined Gen-Z to be characterised as the most stressed-out working generation today.
Burnout, purpose and passion may not seem connected, but there is a connection. Though efforts have revolved around how to promote employee engagement, in at least nine European countries, burnout is recognised as an occupational disease. Organisations, research institutes and regulators should re-evaluate this approach, finding a way to avoid burning out employees in the process. The higher the workload demands, the more support and opportunities for recovery the employee needs. An organisation’s wellness programs with fitness, yoga, or free stuff are not the primary way to respond to stress since a much more significant source of tension remains the workload itself and how its managed. Burnouts have no preference, and it can happen to anyone who is passionate about their work. It can happen to anyone who works with an element of risk, or even an individual that operates in a socially isolated environment. We regularly hear about burnout in one profession or another, yet burnouts will continue to exist as our society values 24/7 availability and short-term gains. Also, remote work contributes to the stress and the burnout epidemic.
In addition to burnouts, workers of the future may also face challenging times to identify themselves with an organisation; however, upwards career trajectories and job opportunities will finally define a dream job, but their biggest struggle revolves around finding their passion. Finding a passion friendly work environment and a chance to earn more can be challenging, but thankfully, there are ways to find your passion even in a job that's less than perfect:
§ Speak to your boss about other opportunities.
§ Identify a mentor you can learn from and ask questions.
§ Control your trajectory and get yourself a new degree or certification.
§ Volunteer or seek interactions that make you feel good.
Though following your passion can help open doors to your dream job, this static mindset of putting all your efforts into one area will more likely end up in you dropping it all or giving up when obstacles arise. Many stories exist of people who didn't follow their passion. Steve Jobs was passionate about Zen Buddhism before entering technology. Heather Russell, the founder of Biscuit who stated, "Was I passionate about real estate when I started? Absolutely not. However, we found an opening in the market and decided to build a solution for it. And then I had to develop a passion for all the things associated with that market."
While obsessive passion is adaptive, following your passion can lead you to stray. It doesn't usually help you find your dream job since one's passion (or interests) remains static, and they don't develop as we and the world around us evolves. Besides, the primary path to passion is doing things that expand your comfort zone without leaving you in constant fear.
We all have different perspectives of passion and success, yet still, we have the same envy for a stable job at a thriving organisation with an inclusive leadership style that encourages us to work at our very best. A dream job can be one that makes the most out of your qualifications and abilities in a fast-paced and friendly work environment that empowers you to make decisions, having authority over budgets, practices or strategy. It should be challenging where you learn new topics, and of course, job opportunity enhancements to develop your career further.