Science & technology are growing exponentially. Patents filed double every 19 years & scientists double every 15 years. Approximately 90% of all scientists that ever lived are currently alive. In the last 200 years, we have invented more than in the previous 200,000 years. This is what exponential growth is all about. It adds to each other at such a scale that the mind cannot intuitively wrap its arms around it.
When it comes to talent, human capital and jobs, something critical is also changing: On the one hand, McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2020, there will be 38 million to 40 million fewer workers with tertiary education (college or postgraduate degrees) than employers will need or 13 percent of the demand for such workers; 45 million too few workers with secondary education in developing economies, or 15 percent of the demand for such workers; On the other hand, 90 million to 95 million more low-skill workers (those without college training in advanced economies or without even secondary education in developing economies) than employers will need, or 11 percent oversupply of such workers. This is what research calls the Talent Paradox – while employers cannot find talent, employees cannot find jobs.
What can we do as leaders to prepare for these talent tensions? Should we play by the rules of the game, or should we change the game altogether?
A recent analysis of OECD data covering 200,000 jobs in 29 countries breaks AI’s job displacement effect into three waves: algorithmic (until the early 2020s), augmentation (to late 2020s), and autonomy (to mid-2030s).
The algorithmic wave will mostly impact those involving clerical and manual tasks. The second wave of augmentation will bring machines and humans together to complement each other. The third wave of autonomy will make machines do unusual things that are not possible now.
The next step for the organization is to prepare for the upcoming waves and make their workforce ready for everything. A continually transforming work environment that is heavily influenced by the advent of new tech, rise of automation, demands of a diverse and distributed workforce: will be the key growth drivers for future leaders. The leaders need to work in three different directions, such as setting a process for the upcoming shifts, consolidating the people leaders of their organization, and finding their next curve.
Organizations need to become a living organism that anticipates and adapts to the needs of the market. That can only happen when organizations flattened, decentralized decisions and empower the last mile to do the right thing for the organization. The centralized operating model is broken, and only organizations that can have clarity on their mission, their direction, and have the trust to empower teams across the board to interpret that mission and direction in their context, will win in the new business context. That is why hiring and talent identification will be at the core of talent strategy. If the power is with each team, organizations better have the right people in those teams empowered to make those decisions on behalf of the larger collective.
More power to squad teams will drive a shift in the role of leadership as well. The role of the leader emerges as a support, as a sounding board, like the one that provides clarity on the mission and helps teams define their context away from directing and closer to coaching. Leadership is about bringing clarity, giving direction, and bringing meaning to the team.
Leader as a coach is not a new dimension of leadership; great leaders have always been great coaches. What is changing is the tools that will make leaders more accessible and impactful. For example, tech can help leaders get an insight into the team and make them understand who needs their support and in which areas. Technology is making leaders more effective as coaches.
My Next Curve: Focus on Value Creation and “Not-to-do Lists”
The next curve is not in what we do but in the value we create. Microsoft's Satya Nadella in a recent video mentioned that what has made you successful will start “running out of gas.” Being continually thinking about the value you create will keep you on your toes on what you do and keep shifting where you spent time and what activities you focus on to generate value.
The next curve is in keeping “not-to-do” lists as opposed to “to-do” lists. As Rudy Karsan, founder of Kenexa, once told me if you are investing time in doing things someone else in your team could do, then you are getting behind your curve and not allowing yourself (nor your team) to move to the next curve.
If you like this article, then share your thoughts about your #NextCurve as a people leader.