Ever changing technology and office culture bring with it changes in workplace dynamics. How do you lead a team in this new environment?
The business world is rapidly transforming. According to Alexandra Levit, author of Humanity Works: Merging People and Technology for the Workforce of the Future, “I learned that one way to have a sustainable competitive advantage in a constantly evolving, virtual, global and automated environment is to master how to lead a team. Leaders who do this may well find that running their organizations at this time in history will be rewarding and full of opportunity.”
Brick and Mortar Office No More?
The average employee in the 2030s probably won’t be work in a single physical environment, but where and when it’s most convenient and impactful. Virtual offices are already in place as more employers embrace telecommuting and web-based meetings. “The idea of offices is already changing, with a switch to more ‘WeWork-style’ workplaces,” says Jeff Epstein, owner of referral software company Ambassador Software. “Shorter-term teams will be assembled to solve specific business problems and will operate virtually.”
Where you live is no longer a disadvantage when applying for numerous jobs and this will be the case for many more jobs in the future. A traditional office environment is not required in many industries and teams are often dispersed geographically over a wide area. “Teams are becoming more multi-disciplinary as distributed workplaces allow for talent to specialize,” says Nathan Klarer, Nathan Klarer, founder and chief operating officer at IT talent provider Datyra.
How to Lead a Team that Isn’t All in One Place and the Same Time
“The most fundamental change is that real-time communication is commonplace,” says Epstein. “Today, with a litany of communication tools, teams have access to information—and people—immediately, and people expect to chat with team members at any time.”
Team leaders will be challenged to find ways to be available to offer guidance and direction without the boundaries of literal doors and traditional business hours, all without losing their own work-life balance.
iRobots and Siri
Automation is inevitable in many industries and we have to adapt to those changes, especially as we lead our teams into the future. Software is more and more intuitive, and our computers play an even bigger role in the tasks essential to certain industries (research, data analysis, etc.).
Intelligent personal assistants, similar to Apple’s Siri, will become a tool for leaders and employees when determining how to use data and complete work efficiently.
“Robots will take over many service jobs, and a personal touch may become a luxury,” Epstein predicts.
Throughout the mid-21st century, leaders will need to assess the portion of tasks can be automated or otherwise outsourced to a machine, and what is best reserved for their human team.
Skills development will need to evolve based on the changing needs of the workplace. A degree in a specific field may not sustain a worker for their entire career without continued education and skills refinement.
“More market entrants and increasing automation means skills will get obsolete faster. Smart leaders will spend more time and money investing in continuous employee training and professional development,” says Klarer.
Leaders will play an integral role in conversations with their teams about short and long-term career goals, and how best to integrate work and life together.
There is No “I” in Team
Transformational Leadership is the future. With transformational leadership, leaders inspire positive changes in those who follow them and are focused on helping every member of the team succeed.
“Good leadership in the future will enable the maximum number of people to reach their individual potential in pursuit of a common goal,” says Klarer. “A leader’s job is to create a structure that accomplishes this within the context of their business structure, and practically, it will mean assessing employees qualitatively and quantitatively.”
“Strong future leaders will possess self-awareness, integrity, emotional intelligence, honesty and confidence,” Epstein asserts. They will need to motivate, inspire and communicate to build a team that trusts.
Virtual environments, growing technology and updated skills education may become the norm in the next decade. Where will you be standing on the mountain? Leaders who acclimate and adjust to the ever-changing business world will come out on top.