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Nothing like self-development for those in charge
 
A quick scan of recent business news illustrates the impact technological trends are having on our lives. You can see stories on the rapid growth of virtual reality next to reports of self-driving cars and increasingly-sophisticated drone technology.

 

Apple is arguing with the FBI, and Twitter appears to be having problems clinging on to its users. Technology in all its forms is a part of our private lives and our working days.

 

The impact this is having in the workplace isn’t just limited to the new functional benefits that technology brings, but also the broader changes it creates in employees’ outlook, expectations and approach to work. Yes, on the one hand it creates new productivity tools, new ways to talk to clients, and entirely new market sectors.

 

But on the other, it has also altered career expectations and probable trajectories. It has created new roles and morphed others beyond recognition, as well as drastically modifying the expectations which fall on the shoulders of an organisation’s leadership.

 

The challenge for these leaders then is to rapidly understand and act on the changed circumstances to ensure their leadership remains relevant to this dramatically different landscape. Furthermore, for the sake of their organisations, they also need to adjust what it is exactly they look for in the next generation of potential organisational leaders.

 

Generations of workers

 

This means considering the current competencies that are likely a fixed part of your leadership development and succession planning processes, and questioning whether they are defined broadly enough to take account of future requirements. Today’s workplace is already filling with as many as five generations of workers, with very different needs and expectations.

 

You may have only just got your head around the suggested traits of the millennial generation, and yet their successors — Generation Z — are already moving into the workplace too, and they are different again.

 

Coping with this means thinking about some of the critical trends that are resting with increasing weight on organisations. It means, for example, connecting the extent of globalisation — organisations operating internationally as a matter of course; staff working remotely across time zones and cultures — with the demands it places on leadership in terms of cultural intelligence and leading a globally-scattered employee base.

 

It might also mean thinking about how technology such as social media has changed the perception of what transparency means for an organisation and its leaders. Increasingly, employees look to social media for information on all aspects of their lives, and this is likely to include for insights into their own employers’ news and their leaders’ thoughts.

 

Social media is consequently both a powerful leadership tool and a potential banana skin for the unwary or incautious.

 

Millennials and Generation Z

 

Growing global awareness has also prompted a huge upsurge in interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues. Where this might have once been viewed as a nice-to-have luxury that could function as a part-marketing, part-employee engagement activity, it is now seen as something fundamental to an employer’s appeal to new recruits and in its day-to-day business activities.

 

Millennials and Generation Z are far more inclined to view CSR as a crucial part of how a company operates and will actively seek out positions which can provide a real sense that they are making a difference.

 

Ultimately, the concept of training and development to prepare for an unknown technology-led future might seem counter-intuitive. After all, if the pace of change is what it is today, it will surely be even greater tomorrow. Is it even possible to keep pace or is the effort really just an exercise in futility?

 

The simple answer is that it doesn’t have to be. Leaders can focus first on their own development — in particular, on their capacity to handle change and uncertainty — and on being best prepared to handle the new expectations that already lay at their doors. This provides a solid grounding from which they can then better keep pace with the heady speed of change that is occurring in the workplace.

 

Michael Castle is Executive Development Director at Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group (ADUKG).

 

Reference : www.thenational.ae