December 18, 2019 – Industry 4.0’s disruptive technologies like cloud computing, blockchain, or artificial intelligence are making huge impacts on not only how businesses create and deliver their products but also how they manage their people. In the context of talent management, will technology 4.0 benefit talents and leaders, or will it cause more confusion? 

The evolution of leadership

TRG Talk: Talent Management December welcomes Garry Howell, an experienced speaker who has more than twenty years of experience in Organisational Development and Performance Management arenas.

Garry begins the Talk with a brief group discussion about the revolution of leadership styles. While many of our attendees can explain perfectly what is Leadership 4.0, Leadership 1.0 through 3.0 is difficult to put into words.

Just like the industrial revolution, leadership styles also go through a series of changes over the years.

Leadership 1.0 occurred during the 1920s until the 1990s. During this time, people’s main focus was on delivering products on time, causing zero mistakes, always present in the office. Leadership was highly hierarchical, directive, fearful, and ego-centric. 

Leadership 2.0 happened at the beginning of the technological boom, where leaders were expected to touch base with their staff more frequently, share a vision and provide direction to the team instead of telling them what to do. They also needed to provide opportunities for growth and development.

Leaders in the leadership 3.0 era were no longer the key decision-makers. Everyone was treated equally. Start-ups became the perfect example as to why motivating team members, making them happy, and empowering them are the key to business success.

Leadership in the Industry 4.0 era constantly faces fast changes, where smarter and more streamlined processes will replace traditional talent management. With the rise of mobile apps, smart technologies, and employees’ work-life ideologies, today’s leaders need to be ready to equip themselves with new competencies.

Read more:  3 evolving aspects of leadership & management in the Digital Age

Talent management in a technology 4.0 world

To have a more holistic view of talent management, Garry uses the model of integrated talent management for today’s discussion. 

Using the above model, Garry raises the question: how much impact do attendees think technology will have on talent management? With technology involvement, what aspects will change, to what degree, and what aspects will remain the same?

A robust discussion erupts. Many answers are given from the qualifications of a professional is no longer the number one priority, but personality and behaviours are. Moreover, training and development in the 4.0 era can take many forms, from coaching to e-learning, on-the-job training with the incorporation of a 360-degree feedback system in some businesses to develop more well-rounded leaders and empower employees to bridge their skill gaps.

Recruitment in the twenty-first century encompasses aspects such as the candidate’s behaviours and their “fit” to a specific position and company culture.

Garry emphasises that leaders today operate in an extreme Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment. Companies need to become more agile to cope with constant changes in the market and to equip their employees with the necessary skills so they can increase the bottom line.

Read more: In a world of volatility, invest in employee engagement

Leadership 4.0 gives rise to digital leaders. In addition to being “well fit” to their positions and the company cultures, digital leaders are also required to acquire new competencies, such as:

  • Digital savvy
  • Entrepreneur inclined
  • Innovation oriented
  • Outcome focused
  • Be an influencer
  • Seek collaboration
  • Design thinking
  • Communicate vision and tread the path

Garry believes that among all of the above competencies, digital savvy and design thinking are worth paying attention to.

Digital savvy refers to the ability to use technology and adapt to the changing digital landscape. Digital savvy individuals understand the crucial role and impact of technologies and digital platforms on their daily responsibilities.

Design thinking puts the human at its core. In order words, design thinking is customer-centric. It encourages companies to think from the perspective of the person who will use a particular product, service, or solution. As a result, what companies and their teams will achieve is a better product, service, or solution at an optimal price using currently available technologies.

Design thinking enables everyone to embrace simple mindset shifts and tackle problems from a new direction.

According to Garry, the number one challenge that talent management faces today is the ambiguity of the market. Leaders are swimming in murky water, which makes it challenging for them to observe the direction or make informed decisions.

Motivating employees and keeping them satisfied and happy at work remains relevant in the VUCA environment. If the market is always chaotic, and the salary you offer them cannot be increased, then investing in people’s wellbeing and happiness can benefit your company in the long-term.

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