The future of leadership

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The future of leadership


The demands future leaders face in South Africa over the next decade are many and varied. The era we find ourselves in has become known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and while there are many benefits that come with such technical advances there are many challenges that accompany it.

“The drivers of change and associated megatrends shaping our world are increasingly complicatig the domain of leadership. The potential benefits to humanity are phenomenal, but numerous challenges also present itself; many from an ethical perspective,” says Dr. Cobus Oosthuizen, dean of Milpark Business School.

So what will it take to be an effective leader of the future?

Cobus believes that future leaders need to capitalise on benefits and find solutions to the problems that may arise from living in an era of 4IR. Leaders need to be able to:

1. Adapt and react accordingly: “It starts with an appreciation of the limits of one’s own knowledge, and then to adapt it to the new environment so that one can anticipate emerging trends and connect the dots. A way to hone this ability is to actively build diverse networks across traditional (counterproductive) professional and sectoral boundaries, and to develop a multi-stakeholder orientation that will facilitate the reframing of mental and conceptual models and outdated organisational orthodoxies,” says Cobus.

2. Relate to others and themselves: Cobus highlights the importance of having emotional intelligence. “Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills are subsequently critical to be an effective leader in the era of 4IR,” he says.

3. Keep fit and remain calm under pressure: “Leaders must embrace the vital importance of sleep, nutrition and exercise, and understanding ways of keeping one’s physical body in harmony with one’s mind, one’s emotions, and the world at-large,” says Cobus.

4. Differentiate between right and wrong: Ethical issues will abound in an age where technology will give us the opportunity to learn more about people than we ever did before. “The ability to recognise and respond appropriately and effectively to ethically challenging situations in 4IR is becoming of critical importance,” says Cobus.

5. Synthesise information between different disciplines: It’s no longer enough to simply draw from your own field of study/functional role when trying to solve a problem. “This approach is limiting as it provides only a partial view, and using that partial view as the lens through which to view an organisation’s longevity in 4IR becomes problematic,” explains Cobus.

There’s no doubt that there will be many challenges facing leaders of tomorrow. Following a linear approach to leadership is no longer the best way to run an organisation from the front. To be an effective leader you need to be adaptable and open to learn new ways of doing things, otherwise it’s not only the organisation that will suffer but those that work within it looking for guidance and inspiration.

20 Aug 2018