Leading in the Future – The Evolving Future of Work


“If you don’t think about and plan for the future of work, then your organization has no future.” – Jacob Morgan

The words of Jacob Morgan, author of Future of Work, are so true and relevant to organizations globally. This is a wakeup call for all organizations and leaders and it is critical to understand the future trends and make the required changes and adaptations immediately. Let’s look at what kind of changes we can expect in the Future of Work first.

Digital Dexterity – While organizations are on a mission towards digitization, an equally important mission is to increase the digital dexterity of employees. This will be about increasing the capability of employees. How quickly can the capability be increased, to what level of depth or breadth can the capability be improved, can the current workforce’s capability be increased or should new hires be onboarded, what technologies need to be prioritized? This will be a critical set of questions to be answered by the leadership team to establish the focus, priorities and alignment to the strategic mission of the organization.

Leadership Transformation – The leadership capability required in the future will be very different from what our understanding is today. The multi-generational workforce, digital economy, fast pace of change, globalized workplace and more, will require a set of leadership skills which very few of our leaders have. This will mean an assessment of current leadership landscape, envisioning the new leadership skills required and building the capability across the organization.

Employee Experience – How about visualizing your employees as your customers instead of resources or assets? That will be the mindset in the future and this will mean that we have to focus on the experience of employees at work. Ensuring a positive, engaging, and energizing experience will have an impact on the organizational results. Organizations have to go beyond just saying Employees First. The reflection for organizations is how can they bring it alive and help employees experience the change. It’s about making Jack Ma’s words a reality, “Staff first, customers second and shareholders third.”

Structure & Systems – While we tend to reflect on and make changes in the softer side of the organization, it’s equally important to evaluate the required change in the harder side of the organization. The two aspects which need immediate attention are structure and systems in organizations. It’s about diagnosing whether the organization has the right structure to support the need for change and delivering the business agenda, and which system needs to be upgraded or updated to support the emerging needs. One of the changes we see organizations implementing is to move away from performance appraisal ratings. This is a welcome change, shifting the focus to more frequent performance conversations.

Gig Economy – We are in the Gig Economy and the truth is that it is becoming an order of the future. We have many Gig economy platforms creating and providing opportunities and employees are also transitioning to become freelancers to gain work-life balance, focus on the work they are passionate about and to live a full life with passion. This will mean organizations have to adapt & leverage the Gig economy – hiring freelancers, creating flexible jobs, hiring returnees and more.

Mindsets – All the factors I shared are important, but the one factor that is the foundational requirement for helping organizations to become successful in the future, is the Mindsets of people. Mindsets can be a difficult roadblock for organizational change, and it’s important to prioritize this upfront. Leaders may want to create a culture that has flexibility and transformation in its DNA, and this will help organizations to have an agile mindset and be ready to adapt to any change.

If organizations want to lead in the future, they have to start preparing now by evolving to meet the needs of the future of work. I have shared a few factors in this article and would recommend that organizations and leaders diagnose and identify their specific needs and deploy the appropriate change management plans.

The Institute of Organization Development (IOD) offers the Leadership Development Certification Program (LDCP) to help participants learn how to develop effective leadership development strategies to achieve organization goals and advance their career as a Leadership Development Professional. This program provides participants with the tools and skills needed to guide senior leaders to design and implement the best practice Leadership Development Program.  After completing the program, you will gain a certification as a Leadership Development Professional and earn the distinction of LDCP.

To learn more about how you can develop these skills and implement an effective leadership development strategy, contact IOD at info@instituteod.com.


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