A blue paper sailboat leading a bunch of yellow paper sailboats on a wooden surface to represent leadership skills.
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The future of work needs leaders with these skills

6 Sep 2018

The future of work needs leaders who are ready for it, and Cheryl Cran is here to help you prepare.

There are basic leadership skills that have worked for leaders and teams in the past. Basic leadership skills include the ability to communicate a vision, adapt to multiple personalities, manage conflict and motivate a team.

The future of work requires leaders to have new skills, and leaders need to upskill and reskill in order to build effectiveness and to inspire teams to create the future of work.

The two skills that leaders need to build in order to be ready for the future of work are:

Human intelligence quotient

Human intelligence quotient (HIQ) is the ability to understand human behaviour. Leaders of the future will need to have enhanced abilities to understand people at higher levels. For example, a leader needs to build the ability and agility to look beyond the face value of an employee behaviour and instead investigate the psychology behind a behaviour.

If an employee is perpetually arriving later than agreed, a leader with a high HIQ would investigate the situation – such as where do they travel from, how do they get to work – and come up with creative ways to help the employee get to work easier.

HIQ is the ‘superpower’ skill of the next decade. In order to master human intelligence, leaders need to focus on a ‘people-first’ perspective. A people-first perspective means that leaders need to place the highest value on people over profits and over technology. There is return on investment on a people-first approach – research shows that worker-centric and client-centric companies increase profits by 24pc on average year on year.

An example would be a situation where a company is implementing new technology. The primary question prior to starting the project would be: how can we ensure that we have engaged all of the people affected by this change of technology?

Included in HIQ is the ability to build emotional mastery. Emotional mastery is beyond emotional intelligence. It includes being hyper-aware of your own emotional range, the ability to override typical emotional reactions to high-pressure situations, and being able to choose and respond with emotional appropriateness.

In addition, a leader with high emotional mastery will be able to discern the emotions of others and customise his or her communication approach to attune to the emotions present in an interaction.

Intuitive creativity

Master leaders are often highly intuitive and able to read people and situations with clarity. The future-of-work skill needed by leaders to inspire and increase motivation of their teams requires intuitive creativity.

Intuitive creativity is the blend of heightened intuition with highly refined listening skills along with the ability to link creative solutions to what is being intuited. For example, a leader may have an employee who says that he or she is engaged; however, the leader can ‘intuit’ that this is not true.

With intuitive creativity, the leader would gently guide the employee to openly share by asking questions and ask the employee to provide input on why they are not happy or engaged. The key to this skill is the ability to be open, trustworthy and transparent.

As technology innovation continues to infiltrate the workplace with robots, AI and automation teams will need leaders who are more ‘human’ than ever before. Creative intelligence is a future-of-work skill but the master level of creative intelligence is linked to intuition and the ability to ‘read’ what is not being said.

A lot of times, leaders will have ongoing coach conversations with their team members, but the conversations are always the same. The leader asks how the team member is doing and often the team member will respond with ‘fine’. This is where many leaders stop the conversation or steer the conversation towards the performance discussion. A master leader with intuitive creativity is willing to ‘go there’ and challenge the unspoken messages. Rather than accept the ‘fine’ response from the team member, an intuitively creative leader might say: ‘I am not sure I “buy” that you are fine; I think there might be more going on. Are you willing to share what’s happening?’

A leader’s willingness to have crucial conversations based on sensing the unspoken creates increased trust and engagement. The master future-of-work leader is willing to hear the good, the bad and the ugly from their team members in order to create a workplace that is inclusive, engaging and inspirational.

Leaders who actively focus on developing his or her human intelligence quotient and their intuitive creativity are poised to have major impact on the people they work with, and lead an inspirational and profitable future of work.

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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