What are the key attributes that the next generation of leaders will need to succeed?

As leading people becomes more complex than ever, leading with purpose and living the company’s values is essential to motivating your workforce. Despite continued advances in technology, talent will continue to be the key to value creation and leaders need to develop new capabilities to shepherd their teams and capitalise on market opportunities.

In our final seminar exploring the Future of Work, we explored the role of purpose in leading the workforce of the future and its importance in navigating three keys trends shaping the role of leaders: digital leadership, sharper paradoxes, and the need for cultural agility.

Developing digital leaders

As the fourth industrial revolution disrupts the way business is done, it’s demanding new and different skills from leaders. With only a handful of companies believing they have strong digital leaders in place, organizations need to act fast to understand their leaders’ capabilities and develop them for the future.

In our research, we’ve identified two key capabilities critical for successful digital leadership: Digital Savvy and Transformational Capabilities. One without the other is not enough. Leaders need both the capacity to work through uncertainty and see how new technology can take the business forward (Digital Savvy) and then channel this to create a positive impact through designing and propelling quick and radical changes (Transformational Capabilities).

Working in an environment filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA)

The age of disruption has brought the fundamental paradoxes faced by organizations into sharp focus, including questions of local versus global, performance versus people and accountability versus collaboration.

Working through these paradoxes requires a new approach that combines the tools to deal with uncertainty, with the leadership mastery to bring your team with you. This means leaders need to deploy their skills to engage in scenario thinking, facilitate complex dialogues and manage conflict, while leading with purpose, bringing balance and encouraging an innovative mindset.

Truly valuing diversity

As businesses become increasingly global, drawing on a mobile talent pool, cultural agility has become a true leadership differentiator. Combining aspects of cultural, emotional and business intelligence, the culturally agile leader displays a deep understanding of culture and how you build a team that collaborates and communicates. Through this, they enable the business to thrive because of the diversity of culture.

Finding purpose

In this environment, leaders with a strongly felt sense of purpose are better equipped to lead and motivate their teams. Central to this is understanding the value they bring as a leader.

It’s this understanding that allows them to empower their teams to have a positive impact on the organization. It’s the guiding force when facing uncertainty or crisis. It reaches the millennial workforce in a way directive leadership never will and it helps leaders to be agile in dealing with cultural difference, while providing the thread that draws diverse groups together.

Getting started

There’s no doubt that leaders will need to make big shifts to engage and empower the workforce of the future, but by starting with the basics, leaders can begin building to be the digital leaders of tomorrow:

  1. Start with listening: So many of the capabilities of successful digital leaders are built on self-awareness and interpersonal understanding.
  2. Help leaders develop their sense of purpose: This means not only who they are and what they stand for, but a deep understanding of the value they’re there to create.
  3. Position leaders to empower and inspire: Leaders who empower their teams to innovate and transform the business fundamentally understand their role is to achieve through others, not through their own capability. Ensure your systems and metrics champion this approach to support leaders in developing this mindset from the outside in.

For more insights on how to get your leaders ready to unlock the true value of people in your organisation, watch the recording of our recent webinar: Leading the workforce of the future

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About the contributor

Satien Thedthong is a Senior Client Partner for Korn Ferry Advisory, Thailand. He is a human resource professional with over 20 years of experience. Satien has deep expertise in HR services, including Strategic HR, leadership and talent, people and organisation development, competency modelling, coaching, succession planning and development programs. He develops/enhances the effectiveness of organisations and people, establishes and implements HR strategies, and manages the overall corporate HR functions to most effectively meet business requirements.

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