Today’s Innovation-Propelled Leader

Blog Post Innovation that Creates New Value

Leading in today’s technology-driven marketplace requires managing employee fears about the future of work while creating a bold learning lab that draws out new competencies in the workforce. Think about it from the vantage point of the individual employee: Our ever iterative technology-laden world is incredibly exciting, and also fraught with all manner of dangers lurking at each new innovation that changes how we do our work. Almost every day through our various news sources, we learn such things that resemble these recent headlines: Robots are now picking warehouse items for shipment at Amazon, drones are mining for precious minerals at Northern Star Resources, and increasingly drones are waging war for governments across the globe. Artificial intelligence is thus being deployed at increasing rates to ratchet up efficiency, reduce production costs, and protect human life. The leader who sets herself apart from the pack does so by articulating this new world as a possibility of a bold, new frontier of work that calls forth higher level competencies many people are likely to find more fulfilling than what they enjoy today in their jobs.

And Yet This New World Order of Work Elicits a Terrifying Survivalist Response.

While all these technological advancements might register for most of us as the stuff of Star Wars future attractions predicted decades earlier and can be incredibly inspiring, they also contribute to an increasing fear and anxiety palpable among today’s workforce. People think, “will my job be given to a robot next week?” “How long will it be until artificial intelligence outpaces my own ability to generate meaningful contribution? What do these ever-escalating technological innovations mean to my ability to enjoy a career and generate a livelihood for my family?” As technology continues its constant development cycle, the human element in its wake is increasingly frightened, frozen, and thrown into a survival mode that may even present itself as an existential crisis. Effective leaders really need to become fully present to this very real phenomenon in its most raw experience among today’s workforce and create language that begins to confront the frightening reality that fewer people will be needed to do traditional jobs.

With Fewer Traditional Jobs Available, The New World Order of Work Demands Completely New Competencies

This perfect storm of rapidly emerging technology and a scared, survivalist workforce jockeying to keep their job desperately calls for a leader who not only who paints the picture of possibility of contributing higher-order skills but also creates a learning-lab workplace that constantly grooms employees for their new, future roles. There is a decided gap between today’s workforce abilities and the elevator-ride competencies that must be continually developed to align with today’s internet-of-things workplace. Leaders better serve their employees and their organizations when they affirm the undeniable truth that the changing workplace will require fewer traditionally employed people. Doing so is the first step to dismantling the power of immobilizing fear in the hearts of employees and open the door to hope for a new and exciting future that lets employees contribute higher level skills than those overtaken by technology. The opportunity is for the humans in the workforce to literally rise to the occasion and build higher order competencies and skills to what they bring to the marketplace. And leaders and organizations that stake a claim on this new work frontier by creating a learning environment that spearheads the required transition to a higher skilled workplace will be the clear winners. Leaders, prepare yourselves to cast the vision, awaken the possibilities across your organizations, and create the supported learning culture you’ll need to develop employees into their next generation of skills.