Organizations are re-evaluating their organizational structures and hierarchies to prepare for the future in a fast-changing landscape driven by technology and artificial intelligence. Companies like Unilever, Standard Chartered, and Hewlett-Packard have shifted from traditional job-based approaches to skill-based ones to foster agility, autonomy, and ownership within their teams. Leaders have a pivotal role in guiding teams through this transition and must possess critical skills to ensure success.
The Shift Towards Skill-Based Work
Traditionally, organizations assess employees based on their job positions and experience. However, the goal of a skill-based approach focuses on skill levels and proficiency as the defining factors. Deloitte reports that 61% of business executives believe the new skills required by the influence of new technologies will be a primary driver of their organization adopting a skills-based approach.
These new skilled workers are not readily available. Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs may remain vacant because there aren’t enough skilled people to take them. Consequently, companies must make the most of the talent they have. The transition to a skill-based structure is expected to enhance employee retention rates as it allows people to showcase their uniqueness and grants them greater autonomy in utilizing their skills effectively.
Leadership For The Future
As the World Economic Forum projects, six out of ten workers will require training by 2027. Organizations actively preparing their people for future challenges will have to invest heavily in growing and developing their people. The success of these skill development initiatives largely hinges on the leaders responsible for their implementation.
Leadership has traditionally centered around optimizing business operations to achieve results. However, leaders now need to shift their focus to prioritize people’s growth, development, and continuous learning. In the face of rapidly evolving technology, leaders must set an example by embracing these changes and embodying a commitment to lifelong learning for their teams and themselves.
The Blindspot: Employee Stress And Engagement
The reality in today’s workplace is that people suffer from change fatigue due to the many changes they have endured: the shift to more hybrid work, the application of AI and other technological developments, macroeconomic challenges, and talent shortages. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 reports that employee stress rates remain high at 44%, with only 23% of the world’s employees engaged at work. That means a concerning 77% are not engaged, and a quiet quitting rate of 59% highlights the urgency for strong, compassionate, and people-focused leaders who are equipped to help their teams navigate through yet another change.
Organizations must recognize the pivotal role of leaders in employee engagement and invest in their development. In turn, leaders must invest in their teams to ensure the effective implementation of skill-focused initiatives that prepare the workforce for the future.
Key Leadership Skills For Navigating Change
Leaders must cultivate specific skills to keep their teams afloat while managing current business operations and equipping their employees with future-proof skills.
1. Deepen The Connection
Leaders must build professional intimacy with their teams and foster interpersonal relationships. Professional Intimacy is an atmosphere where people feel their leaders show sincere interest in the human being behind the ‘worker.’ All employees have three basic human needs: to be seen and respected and to grow in one or more areas of their lives. It’s essential for leaders that they are equipped with the skills to have the type of conversations where people feel seen and safe and will open up about what’s critical for them in their work and life and in what areas they are seeking to grow. Through emotional intelligence and compassion, leaders can understand their team members’ unique aspirations and support them in their professional development.
2. Continuous Learning
A leader’s primary task is decision-making. Continuous learning sharpens problem-solving skills. Exposure to diverse ideas and experiences allows leaders to approach challenges from various angles, increasing the likelihood of finding innovative and effective solutions.
Successful leaders commit to continuous learning. They realize they always have more to learn, no matter how successful they are. They should stay informed about industry trends, emerging technologies that could benefit their organization, and best practices from other companies inside and outside their industry, ensuring they make well-informed decisions.
Leaders should have a deep understanding of how their behaviors impact those around them. Acquiring coaching skills is the foundation of creating a high-performing team environment. Like top sports teams, business teams benefit from working with coaching leaders who give honest and constructive feedback and are focused on their development. Coaching helps leaders work with their teams to improve communication, collaboration, mindset, energy, and skills. Leaders with coaching skills know how to guide their team members to get the best out of themselves and develop them further in areas that interest them, which undoubtedly improves their engagement and performance.
Transitioning to a skill-based workplace is essential for many organizations’ future readiness but requires effective leadership. Leaders must possess the interpersonal, learning, and coaching skills to remain closely connected to their teams as they guide them through change. In this era of rapid technological advancement, investing in leadership development is pivotal for retaining talent and creating success.
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