Workforce of the future is here; how do you lead  and learn from them?
The writer

Workforce of the future is here; how do you lead and learn from them?

The Workforce of the Future is here; How do you Lead, and Learn from them?

The topic of the future workforce has been widely discussed and written about. The future workforce will be empowered professionals working with AI and robots, and yet fully human. 

Fortunately, the workforce of the future is here. Now, where are the leaders of the future? Are the leaders still steeped in the past, or the future leaders are here to lead the workforce of the future? 

The workplace has changed. Today, work is distributed around the world, and individuals work remotely, in-person or in a hybrid version. Individuals enter the workforce with different aspirations, and each aspiration is valid. And leaders must respond to this change. 

In most offices, there are three generations. While working with the HR Team of a group of companies, I asked them to prepare the population pyramid of the team in their companies. The data showed three distinct generations within an organization that was being led and managed as one distinct unit. 

The Challenge is Real

Gary Hamel, the management guru in his book, Leading the Revolution, asserted and warned leaders that "the generation now entering the workforce is more authority averse than any in history". 

CK Prahalad also encourages leaders to recognise that the future workforce is made up of individuals. He argues that each individual is unique, and each individual needs to have a voice in the design of the work, conditions under which work is done, and how they are led. Leaders have to accept this fact. The challenge is on and it’s real. How can leaders learn and adapt?

What leaders can learn

Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, offered her insights how to lead the workforce of the future about two decades ago. I think that she is among the few leaders who are more capable of representing this topic. 

This is not solely because she was a great leader who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honour in the United States, or because she received 20 honorary doctorate degrees. 

Rather, as the CEO of Girl Scouts, Frances interacted with every demographic bracket throughout her professional career. She embraced the workforce of the future. She was positive and full of hope. She did not whine about “the youth of today.” 

She believed that the future workforce were the leaders of the generation today. She described herself and her “mentees” as “fellow travellers” with the young ones on the leadership journey whenever young leaders referred to her as their mentor. She believed that “today’s leaders have as much to learn from the workforce of the future as they can learn from us”. She suggested that leaders can learn from the workforce of the future how to build relationships, balance work and life, give back, and celebrate technology.

Writing on Leading the Workforce of the Future, she offered 21 thought-provoking questions for every leader to consider. I present the questions here for your reflection and learning. Use these questions to create an internal examination of your current strengths and shortcomings as a leader of the workforce of the future.  

1. How many lives have I changed because I took an interest in someone at work?  

2. How well do I treat people as individuals, respecting their culture?  

3. How many hours do I work each week, and how does that influence my attitude toward others who do not work the same number of hours?  

4. Do I truly connect to people at work, or merely communicate?  

5. How well have I mastered Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, Twitter, and other social networking sites and services to benefit the organization?  

6. What aspects of social learning can be leveraged to gather and dispense knowledge?  

7. How often do I use instant messaging?  

8. Do all my people know how important they are to the organization?  

9. How can my organization ensure that everyone influences and embraces change?  

10. How much fun do we have at work?  

11. How open and transparent am I?  

12. How much passion do I bring to work?  

13. How do I encourage authenticity throughout the organization?  

14. How would I rate my authenticity? How would others rate it?  

15. How accessible am I to everyone in the organization?  

16. How can we better tap into the learning and knowledge that occur across the organization?  

17. How convinced am I that the organization is prepared for the future?  

18. How can the organization build social responsibility into individual development plans? 

19. What is the organization doing to support the community? The world?  

20. Every day is a gift; what have I given today?  

21. To serve is to live; how have I served today?  

How do you feel about your answers? What might you do differently as a result of your self-examination? How could you garner information about these questions for your workforce of the future? 

The future workforce is here and they are waiting to be led by future-ready leaders. It’s time to lead.

… of good cheer!

The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program, and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory.

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