Future Of Work Would Be Best Described As Constant 'Change'

During a crisis, the leader should focus on key stakeholders and critical stakeholder needs. Keep that at the forefront and develop an actionable plan to guide the response and hence the outcome: Shailja Dutt, Stellar Search


In today’s workplaces, Emotional Intelligence is considered as a more important attribute as than Intellectual Intelligence. Organisations across the world are hiring CEOs rich in emotional intelligence over intellectual intelligence.   

Due to their ability to empathize and connect with people around them, people with high EQ make great leaders and team players. High EQ leaders increase workplace happiness, increase employees’ confidence and make room for an open channel of communication. Leaders with high EQ create culture-driven organizations that perform at their peak due to the power of mission and teamwork.

Shailja Dutt, Founder, and Chairperson, Stellar Search talks about crisis management for leaders, organisations of the future and preparing for skills of the future.

How should leaders handle the crisis in an organisation? How should you keep the employee motivated?

Despite organisations having a “crisis ready culture” or contingency plans/business continuity plans in place, the finest examples of adept crisis management also act as great lessons in leadership.

  1. Good leaders demonstrate both Adeptness & Adaptability whilst managing a crisis.
  2. They exemplify high EQ during a crisis with a focus on managing relationships and not transactions
  3. They communicate, and often over-communicate.

During a crisis, the leader should focus on key stakeholders and critical stakeholder needs. Keep that at the forefront and develop an actionable plan to guide the response and hence the outcome. My mantra in both personal and professional crisis has always been:

  1. Don’t React
  2. Don’t promise something you cannot deliver
  3. Don’t Play the blame game
  4. Delegate tactical actions to a Deputy/ trusted advisor/ external consultant
  5. Focus on the end game

Employee morale can get hugely affected in a crisis and nothing brings a team closer than working to resolve a tough situation together. It’s critical for the leader, during a crisis, to encourage, coach and mentor his team, creating open channels for two-way communication and continuing to measure performance and metrics with rigor, which allows for regular reviews.

What will define organisations of the future? How will the future of work shape up?

In a digitally disruptive world, as traditional hierarchies are crumbling to make way for leaner, flatter, network/ecosystem led businesses, future organisations are redesigning for greater agility to adapt to change. 

Organisations of the future are rewarding customer-centric design thinking, making talent completely mobile, and making performance management dynamic, all in real-time. These intrapreneurial organisations are democratising learning & encouraging innovation on the fly.

I would best describe the future of work as defined by one constant, “Change”.

As the future of work changes, how do leaders prepare for the skills of tomorrow? 

Intelligent leadership will define the success of organisations of the future. Leaders of the future must be network intelligent, resilient, agile, adaptable but largely must be able to communicate & influence without authority.

Our future will demand leaders that thrive in ambiguity and embrace change.

In such a scenario, recruitment and people development will take center stage as organisations build teams that are mobile, agile, focussed, collaborative and thrive on innovation and change.

Does humility make for a good leader? How should companies groom future leaders?

For times immemorial humility has been recognised alongside strength and courage as one of the most crucial skills for successful leadership. It is a value that will take center stage as organisations of the future hire/ groom leaders.

The days of forceful, dominating leadership styles are passe even in the global political landscape as leaders understand the power of influence & vulnerability. In corporate settings, there has been an unequivocal need for appreciative, transformative and inspirational leaders. Research has now proven that humble leaders can solve complex problems better by inspiring greater teamwork & embracing the diversity of thought. 

When looking for humility in leaders we often focus our interview questions around failure, learnings from failure, how leaders seek to receive and work on feedback & how they manage conflict within teams.

How can organisations lead in reducing the skill gap both for the employees and the organisation?

With business models evolving faster than management can keep pace, the skill gap between existing basic cognitive skills in the workforce and the higher cognitive skills required in the future looms large.

A paper by the WEF says that in 2025, “We will be as good as the skills we possess”. Higher cognitive skills, creativity, decision making, negotiations, design thinking will become de rigueur. 

In an increasingly complex world, where our time and attention are divided amongst our many screens and our brains are overridden with multiple stimuli, it will take a precisely targeted approach to reskill and upskill the current workforce.

Learning and development paradigms will shift from their current static “classroom” led the state to more experiential, on-demand, “what I need” and “when I need” personalised, dynamic states.

However, it is my perspective that the single largest contributor to bringing about a skill gap reduction in the medium to long term will be a redesign of our education system, making it more focussed on the future.

What do leaders need to do to drive the business forward?

Authentic leadership is the start of Agile leadership, the ask in today’s VUCA world.

The ask from leaders of the future is their ability to weave strategic agility and basic cognitive thinking with strong emotional and social skills. And to replicate the same model down to every frontline manager, which is the tougher ask.

Moving from a ‘know it all’ position to a ‘catalyst for learning’ will be the differentiator between good and great leaders.

A simple 4 step framework based on the work of leading academicians and Behavioural Scientists in the context of leadership success in the VUCA world suggests :

  1. Build boundary-less networks and focus on influencing rather than directing, dominating or manipulating. This is best done via communicating context and building alignment via storytelling, sharing personal experiences of self and others.
  2. Engage Stakeholders with the intent to build consensus and seek stronger feedback/suggestions, garner greater knowledge.
  3. Explore multiple ideas, opinions with the intent to find the most innovative solution. Engage frequently in discussion rather than debate
  4. Understand one’s self, motivations, values at a more intrinsic level use personal growth experiences to propel organisational growth.

Tags assigned to this article:
leadership Future of Work future skills skill gap


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