Leadership in the age of automation

August 20th 2019

In this uncertain future largely driven by the arrival of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, let's think about what I see as the most important skills for leaders to be considering.

With the coming of machines into the workforce, it’s estimated that 40% of jobs in finance, insurance, retail, hospitality and tourism will be automated in the next five years. How must leaders behave? Let’s think about how leadership will change.

A concept for consideration is that of the socio-technical leader. This is a leadership that must be digitally savvy and be able to mesh human behaviours and digital machine based behaviours into their leadership style.

If we look at the makeup of tomorrow's workforce we can see in organisational charts that not only will it be made up human workers, but the workforce will also rely on what we call HAVA workers (Human Assisted Virtual Assistant workers) and digital workers such as robots. The leaders of tomorrow will have to do two things:

Leaders will have to be digitally and technologically equipped.Leaders will require advanced skills in all the things that make us human. These include things such as being creative, collaborative, problem solvers, networkers - and be able to do things that we associate with the femine archetype.

These are the concepts that leaders will need to understand and learn to combine with deep technical skills.The question is should these leadership skills come in one person? Often they don’t. We quite often see that these two skill sets are achieved by multiple people who develop through different paths to create a co-leadership. Already we see this leadership style adopted by companies who are powered by emerging technologies such as AI. 

With this in mind, we can now identify that leadership will need to be a combination of a digital or technical leaders matched with people who are very good at understanding human behaviours.

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Leadership in the age of automation
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