What does leadership mean in an age of perpetual change?

leader

(Markus Spiske, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Renate Wagner, Chief HR Officer, Allianz SE


  • The role of leader is prone to more upheavals than others.
  • Allianz SE has identified four key characteristics of successful leaders.
  • Businesses can’t control external trends, but with astute leadership, they can control how they react to them.

Business models, the nature of work and the composition of workforces are changing radically. Only companies that transform continuously will remain competitive. Successful transformation depends crucially on whether a company’s leaders have the right mindset and skills.

For companies in the midst of digital transformation, the ability to adapt is the single most important skill, according to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article. Adaptation has to start with people. New roles emerge and old roles evolve; others that have existed for decades are disappearing. Companies need to be able to develop and cultivate new, digitally integrated skills.

 

While almost all jobs are subject to change, there is one kind of role which will change more than most in these times of uncertainty, volatility and complexity: the role of the leader.

Out of your control

The drivers of change are largely out of our control. Take demographics. For the first time in history, companies are now employing up to five generations simultaneously. Globally, generation Z and millennials – with their rather different career needs and aspirations – will soon dominate the workforce. Work patterns are changing, with more people working from home or on the road or in flexible arrangements. In a globalized world, more people are working across geographies and many teams are international. Technological innovation and changing customer expectations underpin the need for continuous business transformation. The boundaries between sectors and functions are blurring. Networks play bigger role in the workplace.

In this rapidly changing environment, companies need to adapt if they want to remain attractive employers, and hence relevant and competitive. Leaders are pivotal. Leadership can influence levels of employee engagement, for good or for ill, by up to 70%. It is critical for the success of any company.

The mindset of future leaders

Leadership starts with the right mindset. At Allianz, we have identified four characteristics that we believe will be indispensable for our leaders in the future:

1. Curiosity. Leaders need to cultivate a “growth mindset”, as described by the American psychologist Carol Dweck. While a “fixed mindset” is one that is resistant and closed off to new information, people with a growth mindset see challenges as opportunities rather than impediments; they shift from know-it-all to learn-it-all, while always being curious to develop new skills and innovate. According to Dweck’s research, employees in organizations where a growth mindset prevails are 34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company, and 49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation than are those from companies stuck in a fixed mindset.

2. Resilience. Most of us don’t find constant and rapid change easy to deal with. Leaders need to be resilient in order to cope with these changes rather than get sidetracked or intimidated. Research by Zenger Folkman found that the most resilient leaders are viewed as the most effective leaders.

3. “We” mentality. This kind of mindset goes beyond collaboration across teams. Leaders need to be bridge-builders and lead beyond their own functions, units and borders.

4. Flexibility. Especially in global companies, adaptability both in terms of content and culture will be key.

Skills for the future

The right mindset will be the basis for leadership in the future. Mindset alone, however, is not enough. Leaders also need to have the right future-oriented skill set to be effective.

If transformation is continuous, the ability and courage to constantly and radically challenge the status quo and manage change effectively will be fundamental. Future leaders will be able to work in an agile manner; they will be IT-savvy, digitally literate and able to build business models on the basis of data analytics. Digitally literate leaders are more likely to provide input to grow the business and more likely to grow themselves than those with limited or no digital skills.

Inclusive leadership will be essential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Inclusive leadership will be essential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In this agile and less hierarchical world, technical skills alone will not be sufficient. Emotional intelligence will play a much larger role, and the combination of both types of intelligence will be essential for leaders to be successful in the future.

The more diverse the workforce, the larger the need for being able to lead inclusively. Inclusive leadership is indispensable to ensure all stakeholders are being taken along on the transformation journey. According to research by Deloitte, teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high-performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help—not harm—humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centres in China, India and Japan in 2018 and is rapidly establishing locally-run Affiliate Centres in many countries around the world.

The global network is working closely with partners from government, business, academia and civil society to co-design and pilot agile frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, blockchain, data policy, digital trade, drones, internet of things (IoT), precision medicine and environmental innovations.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work that the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is doing to prepare us for the future.

Want to help us shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Contact us to find out how you can become a member or partner.

Needless to say, all this comes on top of the more standard leadership skills, such as empowering your team, coaching and giving feedback, which will remain equally important in the future.

The right framework

While we cannot usually control the trends that are reshaping our industries, we can control how we react to them. Companies can guide these reactions by building the right framework of incentives and support structures. HR functions play a pivotal role in guiding these actions and integrating them into recruitment and talent management strategies, and enabling all colleagues equip themselves with the required mindset and skills.

Only in such an environment will current and future leaders succeed with ongoing and parallel transformations.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of DSME by HHIH

Apple Vs. EU: Will the US tech giant ever pay for taking advantage of Ireland’s taxation?

Top UN official urges Russia and Ukraine to step away from further confrontation at sea

More than 750 million people around the world would migrate if they could

Yemen conflict: ‘Fragile’ hopes rise, as violence decreases and life-saving humanitarian funding surges

Don’t believe the hype: offices are here to stay

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

Summer pause gives time to rethink Eurozone’s problems

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

Is your business model fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

AI can help with the COVID-19 crisis – but the right human input is key

This NATO experiment used fake Facebook accounts to trick soldiers into sharing sensitive information

FIRST PERSON: An artist’s ‘obsession’ with New Orleans tradition

Trump to subject the Fed, challenge the ECB and make Wall St. bankers even richer

ECB guarantees the liquidity of the Atlantic financial volume

ECB: Growth measures even before the German elections

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Women boost work profits, saving biodiversity, UK loses Chagos Islands vote, Gaza funding, malaria-free in Argentina, Algeria

Don’t let smoking steal life’s breathtaking moments, urges UN health agency

European Business Summit 15th year: Controversy and Constructive Ideas

The EU Commission is lying to the “Right2Water” campaign

Eurozone stuck in a high risk deflation area; Draghi expects further price plunge

Our idea of what makes a company successful needs to change. And it starts with making waste expensive

MEPs propose ways to boost plastics recycling

Drug laws must be amended to ‘combat racial discrimination’, UN experts say

This Netherlands football stadium creates its own energy and stores it in electric car batteries

These LGBTQI Davos leaders shared their advice on coming out

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

Governments should renew efforts to reform support to agriculture

Council’s position on Visa Directive a step back for young people’s mobility

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

US Tariffs on Steel and Aluminium: Statement of Trade Committee Chair

EU to Turkey: No other ties than €3+3bn to upkeep refugees

A few, or rather two, trade and economic alliances may rule our brave new world

EU-Belarus: MEPs back agreements on readmission and visa facilitation

In China things are moving in the right direction

Landmark terror finance resolution adopted by Security Council

European Banking Union: Like the issue of a Eurobond?

How to accelerate digital literacy in the enterprise world

EU and China to do more in common if the global scene gets worse

The world to teach Germans to…un-German

Mergers: Commission approves the acquisition of Flybe by Connect Airways, subject to conditions

6 things to know about coronavirus today, 1 April

Why leaders need to upgrade their operating systems

Baku forum to push back against ‘rise of hate’ with strong call for cultural and religious tolerance, says UN official

Erdogan’s electoral win on a ‘me or chaos’ dilemma means trouble for everybody

Youth Forum welcomes European Commission proposal to speed up financing for youth employment

The China-US trade deal will be signed on time; the path is set

Russia accepts what the EU has to offer and settles to negotiate with Ukraine

Trump’s pounding of Iran less harsh than expected, leaves arrangement open

UN agency chiefs condemn Saudi-coalition led air strike that killed dozens in western Yemen

The future of energy in Puerto Rico is renewable

How this one change can help people fight poverty

The European Youth explains the age gap in European business in the 21st century

Energy Union: EU invests a further €800 million in priority energy infrastructure

Back to the Basics: Primary Healthcare

Monday’s Daily Brief: the cost of maternal healthcare, Sudan and Chad updates, sustainability in focus

How businesses can create an ethical culture in the age of tech

G20 LIVE: “United States and Turkey stand in solidarity with France and its people in handing the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice”, US President Barack Obama underlines from G20 in Antalya Turkey

A Year in China

Brexit negotiations: Can May’s Britain bounce back?

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s