Across the world, you see the aftermath of rapid disruption technological disruption. A recent article in the ” The Guardian, examined the impact of automation on the workforce. Citing the Bank of England’s chief economist assessment that 80m US and 15m UK jobs might be taken over by robots, it’s clear that automation will have an impact on the world of work.
The cloud, mobile, applications, and the swift rise of artificial intelligence has all but completely transformed the workplace. Our offices are virtual, our teams are remote, and our means of manufacturing need only require a bit of human interaction.
It brings to mind one great question: how is leadership planning to get ahead of this ever-crashing wave of technological change? It’s why we need to think about the future of leadership today, particularly given the rise of machines and AI. In order to advance leadership along with technology, we must consider the following:
We must anticipate our human capital investment – Part of leadership’s responsibility in any corporate capacity is the ability to anticipate what skills will be needed before they’re actually required. As AI and robotics are able to create more speed and opportunity in the marketplace, there will be new skills required to utilize and maintain them along with individuals who must manage the opportunities these technologies create. Now more than ever must we plan for what is needed when it comes to human capital, and we must ask ourselves the ever-present question of how best to achieve it: do we make it (meaning training and development) or do we buy it (talent acquisition?)
Our human capital investment must be as agile as our technological component – As we evolve into even faster technological advances, our businesses must be able to turn on a dime. Leadership must plan for a corporate culture and a body of workers that can react as swiftly as the information that’s received, a workforce agile enough to take advantage of opportunities as they come or to shift the entire workforce in a new direction in order to get ahead of the marketplace.
We must plan for human capital redeployment and obsolescence – As current worker skills become obsolete, we must plan for what to do with those individuals. Leadership should start planning in advance for these out-of-date skills, assessing if employees possess other skills for redeployment or must be managed out. It sounds callous to say it in this manner, but it’s much crueler not to plan and to surprise a long-honored employee with an unexpected round of layoffs.
The way we incent and motivate our human capital must change – We no longer live in a world where employees expect to work a 9-5, 5-day-a-week existence from which they’ll retire with a memento from time served. Work-life balance, excellent benefits, flexible work schedules, and employee perks make for a more progressive work environment, but we must also think about how to create a plan for as much longevity and give and take as we can. Opportunity for advancement, advanced learning, roles that cause individuals to stretch and grow, consistent performance feedback, and rewards both title and monetary helps keep the people side of the business humming as well as its technological counterpart.
We must expect the unexpected – One thing is for certain: change is constant in today’s business world. Every day, our geo-political climate, the world of technology, the very world itself is changing around us. Leadership will win or lose the battle for the future longevity of their organization by their ability to plan for what they don’t know as well as what they do. Contingency plans, forward thinking, and the ability to adapt and manage the unexpected is the only insurance policy for the future. We must anticipate that we don’t know what’s coming, and must make the best of our resources to plan for the inevitable.
Artificial intelligence and robotics are the next advance in business, and along with these massive technological advances comes great responsibility for leadership. Will we harness these great winds of change for our own benefit, or will we find ourselves dashed upon the rocks of business history? Leadership will determine our fate, and we must take it very seriously.