Why the Digital Age Calls for a New Approach to Leadership and Team Management

Why the Digital Age is unlike Any Other Previous Transformation in History

With the Digital Age well and truly upon us, it is time for practitioners of leadership and management to re-envisage a new approach to leadership and management.

This is because the Digital Age which is unfolding now is unlike any other transformation in the world of business and management even when one compares the changes happening now with previous waves of changes in the last Two Centuries.

For instance, while the First Industrial Revolution brought with it wholesome changes and transformations in the way we worked and lived, nonetheless, there was always the possibility that the skills and the abilities required could be upgraded to survive the onslaught of the machines.

This trend continued with the services revolution and the information technology revolution where automation led to jobs becoming redundant and yet, the workers displaced could find new avenues for work.

However, with the emerging Robotics and Digital Transformations, the world of business is set to radically transform with robots replacing all or nearly all workers in most occupations.

Therefore, business leaders and managers need to recalibrate their approach to work and management if we are to avoid large scale disruption and widespread job losses and upheavals that can lead to social unrest.

Identifying the Skills of the Future and Retraining and Reskilling the Workforce

First, it is incumbent upon contemporary leaders and managers to identify which skills would be valuable in the future and then work towards skilling the workforce accordingly.

Recent research has shown that soft skills and interpersonal skills would continue to retain their importance and hence, leaders and managers could well do to invest their efforts in augmenting such skills both for themselves and their team members and employees.

Indeed, while Robots can replace most workers, there are those jobs where higher level cognitive and deeper emotional skills are needed that would continue to be relevant and in demand.

While this skilling of the workforce can be done in partnership with other corporates and businesses as well as industry wide stakeholders along with the governments, there is an added responsibility within each organization to identify the specific skills for their niches and then retrain the workforce accordingly.

Moreover, in case job losses are unavoidable, every effort must be done to ensure that the disruption and the dislocation caused by such job losses are kept within limits so as to not rupture the delicate organizational fabric.

Team Management in the Era of Flat Organizational Structures and Virtual Workplaces

Having said that, there are other aspects that require new approaches to leadership and management. For instance, with the rise of virtual teams and remote working, team management needs to change as these new forms of working would necessitate newer methods of communication and newer forms of manager employee relationships.

Moreover, with the emergence of part time and contractual staff as well as temps, managers need to devise newer ways of dealing with their staff, by forking the approaches used to manage full time and part time staff.

In other words, team management in the Digital Age would be all about how well the dislocations and disruptions caused by the changes would be handled.

In addition, managers would have to contend with the Death of Hierarchy and the End of Top Down and Command and Control modes of organizational structures and this would have profound effects in the way the senior leadership and management communicate with their middle level managers who in turn, manage the entry level and the up and coming employees.

What this means is that there would be large scale changes in the way decision making and organizational communications happen thereby upending many long held notions.

Why Spirituality is Making Inroads into Corporates and Need for Spiritual Intelligence

On the other hand, despite the world becoming digital and the workplace virtual, there are some aspects that would continue to persist from the old way of doing things.

Face to Face communication and Interpersonal transactions in the real world would continue to retain their importance.

In addition, attributes such as EQ or Emotional Quotient signifying Emotional Intelligence would have a prominent role to play in career progression.

Moreover, there is recent research that shows how SQ or Spiritual Intelligence Quotient which is a barometer of how one can balance material pursuits with spiritual needs would be of great importance in the organizations of the future.

This is because as with each age, once the initial euphoria dies down, professionals are more likely to seek higher level motivators and focus on their self actualization imperatives.

Therefore, leaders and managers can well do to ensure that their teams imbibe some of these attributes.

Already world over, there are many leading corporates who are turning to spiritual gurus and things like Yoga to help their employees de-stress and hence, this is something that business leaders and team managers could well follow if they want their teams to remain productive and fully engaged.

Navigating the Perfect Storm Calmly

Lastly, there are certain alarming trends in the workplaces that have crept in thanks to too much technology and automation.

In the United States, there has been a rise in workplace violence and harassment and discrimination not to leave out bullying of gender, racial, and ethnic and sexual minorities.

Moreover, workplaces are becoming more polarized and hence, what these trends signify is that unless the leaders and the managers act now to tackle them, there can be serious repercussions later on.

To conclude, we are in the midst of a Perfect Storm of converging trends that demand entirely new approaches.

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