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Top 3 ‘Future of Work’ Skills Leaders Should Be Learning Today

Organizations that take future of work predictions seriously has dived headlong into training their workforce.

The crystal ball of 21st century competitiveness shows the need for management training and development attuned to future of work competencies.

This is true for entire workforces.

And leaders are no exception.

According to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, 81% of respondents surveyed believe that management should be able to “lead through complexity and ambiguity.”

Future of work training starts now.

Companies are also seeing the wisdom behind a blended workforce where full-time employees all work together with freelancers, project-based talent, consultants, and short-term staff.

The unspoken expectation is that C-suite should be able to manage and leverage diversity.

This seemingly motley crew is the face of future workplace agility.

And leaders need future of work management training and development to get there.

Professional variety requires constant learning and capacity-building, particularly in the area of leadership.

Organizing, developing, & ‘going meta’

Rahul Daswani, futurist, intrapreneur, coach, and Center for Asia Leadership Fellow says there are three types of skills leaders will have to zero in on.

They are as follows:

  • Organizing skills. “In the future, people’s working hours, ways of doing work, and working conditions will be considerably more individualised,” explained Daswani.

According to the former McKinsey consultant, this will result in people’s values, lifestyles, relationships with their communities, and meaning associated with work diverging.

In its most recent Hiring Trends in Southeast Asia report, Monster Employment Index recorded an 18% increase in online hiring activity in the Philippines.

This shows that another future of work reality is the growing gig economy.

More people are taking on project-based work and management is expected to know how to handle it.

Management training and leadership development should help leaders read diverse groups’ realities, needs, and motivations in order to mobilize them towards a shared goal.

Diversity will definitely be a strength of organizations. But leaders will have to become adept at being part coach, part facilitator, part enabler, part interpreter, and a lot of things in between.

  • Developing skills. Interestingly, the most future of work-prepared leader is the one with the most human touch.

A 2019 LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report identified soft skills as one of the four trends equipping teams today for future of work realities.

It may seem counterintuitive in a technology-saturated future.

But soft skills like creativity, empathy, vulnerability, and mentoring will be essential management skills.

Fuzzy skills considered almost alien to the boardroom a generation ago are now crucial for future of work-ready organizations.

According to Daswani, “While our future VUCA world will involve more technology, one thing that will grow in importance is the human-to-human connection.”

Communication skills, and not just business acumen will be a prime leadership skill geared towards developing and retaining top talent.

Leaders will be people experts par excellence who anticipate their teams’ (and even individuals’) unique gut reaction to issues like inclusion, transparency, fairness, social responsibility, the rise of AI, and more.

And they won’t just anticipate them, they’ll know how to leverage them.

  • Meta skills. Logically, the first person anyone leads is herself or himself.

Daswani stresses the importance of leaders whose own learning opens up into more learning.

These future of work meta skills are often the product of years of reflection or an otherwise perceptive mind.

These include identifying patterns and cause and effect; real listening skills, and story-telling, among others.

The 21st century learning curve

Over-all, management, explains Daswani, will have to adopt a futurist mindset.

It’s easy to imagine leaders as the ones who obsess over “various driving forces that can significantly affect the future.”

A huge chunk of that orientation is the kind of management training and leadership development they’ve had.

Admittedly, not everyone automatically thinks like a futurist.

But management that is future of work-ready will be oriented towards “the possible but not yet.”

It’s a balance between projected reality and intuition and cold data.

The increasing pressure on management to move at the speed of VUCA is hard to ignore.

According to a white paper by Center for Creative Leadership, 38 to 50% of executives recently transitioned to new leadership roles are expected to fail outright in their first 18 months.

The irresistibly good news is, anyone who wants to learn something in today’s world can do so.

Leaders are on their own learning curve, and ready or not, it leads straight into the 21st century.

Interested to discover learning opportunities to future-proof leadership? Email us: cali@asia-leadership-2023.local

By Nirva Delacruz & Yuki Lee