How leaders can prepare for the future of work
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What do leaders need to think about for the future of work?

15 Jan 2018

The future of work will affect employers as much as employees. Cheryl Cran has some advice for leaders as they prepare for what is to come.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that the speed of change is increasing exponentially. Moore’s law of accelerating returns, which states that computing power tends to approximately double every two years, is proof that we are not imagining things speeding up.

As individuals, the increasing amount of information that humans have to wade through is beyond the capacity of a laptop to handle in one week.

Everywhere we turn, we are hearing about the future, the increase of artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robots in the workplace.

On one hand, we hear the dystopian future view that robots will take over all jobs; and, on the other hand, we hear that in the future, there will be more and better jobs for humans. What are we to believe? What are we to do?

Although these questions apply to all of us, it’s important that leaders in business think about the future, and the future of work, on a daily basis.

Many leaders are so focused on what’s in front of them and the busyness of their current reality that they are missing very important clues about what’s coming in the near future.

How can leaders prepare for the future?

Change agility. That means thinking differently and with an abundance mindset about the future.

Technology is accelerating. Ask yourself if you are harnessing the full potential of technology innovation and digital strategy in your company.

Leaders’ mindsets need to radically shift from being predominantly linear towards being able to be creative and exponential thinkers.

Critical thinking needs to be upgraded to better discern between ‘deceptive’ information (fake news) and ‘disruptive’ (data-driven, along with context) information that could build successful strategies for the future if heeded.

Design thinking will be required in the future of work. Find solutions in uncommon places. Look outside your industry. Look for convergence between art, science, business and pop culture.

Attitudes are shifting around what work is, how it’s done and where it’s done. Think less about ‘jobs’ and ‘talent’ and more about ‘purpose-linked projects’ and building interchangeable project teams.

Business has the potential to completely transform the world. Leaders need to be thinking daily about the future and where it’s going, as well as how their business is exponentially changing the world for the better.

Think like a start-up. Be hungry and curious about products, services and people, and how to add value to all aspects of the business.

Learn how to be a better leader that is flexible, agile, willing to share power, able to inspire action in teams and able to navigate multiple perspectives all at once.

Bring in diverse opinions from diverse industries, and bring in an expert that can help bridge the current business reality with the ‘context’ of the future impact on the business.

The future of work is not some far-off destination where robots are going to take over all tasks and you won’t have to deal with people. The future of work is here now, and leaders need to be preparing themselves and their teams to be thinking in new and different ways.

I find many businesses still very internally focused; very few leaders are looking outside themselves to different industries or even seeking different opinions as a way to remain tuned in to the fast pace of change in the world.

The opportunity for leaders is to not only think about the future of work, but to begin applying strategies and approaches to how you lead, in order to be on the leading edge of change and be future-ready now.

By Cheryl Cran

Cheryl Cran is a future-of-work expert and author of The Art of Change Leadership: Driving Transformation in a Fast-Paced World.

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