Is your leadership fit for the future?

Is your leadership fit for the future?

Even without the latest developments at Parliament, UK business leaders have a lot on their mind at the moment. Indeed, Brexit is just one of many preoccupations as we prepare to confront the challenges of the digital age along with several other factors impacting the business landscape that are largely beyond our control.

While we can’t legislate against every threat to the business, ensuring you have the right skills, culture and leadership in place will help to protect and prepare the company for what might happen in the coming months and years.

Myers-Briggs Company, which many readers will know from its 80-year pedigree in assessment and psychological expertise, has released a global trends report, People First for Organisational Fitness, which details how businesses can select the best employees, provide effective leadership and help their people to work together “efficiently and harmoniously” despite the current backdrop.

According to John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the company, the analysis considered the “most pressing” issues companies face today as they seek to build and energise an innovative workforce, ranging from diversity and an “always-on” culture to the impact of AI on job evolution.

To select, engage and retain the best talent, companies are going to have to break some “entrenched paradigms”, Hackston cautions.

It’s no surprise that artificial intelligence is one of the areas featured in the report and while Myers-Briggs’ view is that it will replace “very few” jobs in the near future, it will change just about every job. Almost all jobs, from the CEO down, will see some tasks automated and this means companies will need to help people cope with change and develop new skills and trust in the technology that is being introduced. It warns that those companies which adopt AI but neglect the human element “will have set themselves up for failure”.

As important as the discussion around the AI-driven workforce, jobs and securing the best talent is, there is a bigger one to be had about the leadership required to make all of this happen. And unless leaders can make the required transition, their organisations won’t be able to either.

In common with the view of Rialto Consultancy, Myers-Briggs calls for a new kind of leadership to confront future challenges. The report stresses that “narcissistic” leaders are no longer fit for purpose and the “great man” approach won’t deliver the leadership culture demanded in most organisations today.

Leaders, it points out, must be able to create a culture and system that inspire people around them. But it is concerned that the rapid pace of change may leave existing leaders “stuck” in old approaches: “Just because something was considered a ‘rite of passage’ or got them to their position in the first place, doesn’t mean it is effective moving forward.”

Modern leadership requires fresh ideas, thinking and approaches if it is to embed technologies like AI into the workforce as well as identify the opportunities and threats that the digital age brings. This is precisely why Rialto urges leaders to continually evaluate their skillset, assess how relevant their expertise is in the current market and climate and invest in their development no matter how experienced they are.

Leaders who are particularly susceptible to entrenched habits are those who have been in role for some years and haven’t stepped out of their comfort zone. It is better to proactively confront where skills gaps and shortcomings exist than allow them to be exposed, leaving yourself and the company vulnerable. Tools such as the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (RALI) are designed to help leaders benchmark their skills and experience against others based on real-time data.

Acquiring new skills and practices doesn’t mean dispensing with existing ones. Myers-Briggs also warns that AI is propelling younger people into leadership roles without them having developed key interpersonal skills. These will be crucial in building the right cultures and relationships to take organisations forward and senior leaders must ensure that they are imparted to the next generation of up-and-coming leaders.


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