What Will it Take to be a Successful Leader in 2018?

As the countdown to 2018 begins, we can look back at 2017 as a year of some fairly dramatic trends, especially around technology. We saw some strong strides made in automation, robotics, machine learning etc. that have forced us to relook at how we plan our future.

Like Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum writes in this book ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.

Needless to say, this has a far reaching impact on leadership, on the way that organisations run, thrive and grow. Here are some of the trends that we see impacting the leadership approach in 2018.

The Gig Economy
The gig economy, or the growing trend towards temporary positions and independent workers for short-term engagements, is taking off across the globe. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. Closer home, the global job site Indeed found that 7.7 percent of all companies posting on the Indeed platform in India offer flexible work opportunities. In addition, 2.8 percent of all job postings on the site from India are for part-time or contractual roles.

Growing digitization, the ability to work remotely, the quest for work-life balance and need for ‘purpose’ are all factors that are driving this trend. As a leader, the gig economy will force you to change how you look at organisational structures, employee motivation, project management and even budgeting.

If we look at traditional management wisdom, a lot of it including that from experts such as Peter Drucker, actually originated in the blue-collar era. But we have since moved into the information era, with white-collar workers or might we say ‘metal-collar’ workers. While AI and robotics may take a while to become mainstream, leaders need to acknowledge the trend and work towards preparing their organisations to take them on.
The other impact of technology is the immense transparency that it can bring. Technology makes every single process extremely measurable, which means the organisation can no longer hide behind its inefficiencies. Therefore, it forces a much more customer-centric and outcome-based approach that isn’t directly tied to the time/resources spent.

Building an outcome-based approach will be a key leadership goal in 2018.

The Human Element Remains
While technology and lifestyle trends may have a significant impact on how organisations work in the future, the bottom-line is that we’re all still dealing with humans and solving human issues. Therefore, effective leadership still calls for the right mix of cognitive and emotional capabilities.

Business results may be measured using cold, hard numbers, but the human experience is what really matters at the end of the day, even if it can’t really be quantified.

2018 certainly promises to be an exciting year. With an outward in view, a positive approach to technology and a steadfast focus on the human aspect, it is a great time to be a leader.