What does the leader of the future look like? He / she is a hybrid: technologist, empath and capitalist.
No longer are those roles separate, they’re integrated; and the leader of the future embodies them all. With that said, businesses that don’t train, recruit and hire for this profile will be quickly dead; because in the future you’re either a digital business or a dead business.
Of course, tradionally lead businesses are not lead by leaders with the above qualities. Which means that for all the talk about digital transformation one thing holds true: most business are simply getting pushed into it; they’re not transforming into.
There’s a difference between the two. Getting pushed means waiting until you have no choice; this is the playing not to lose mentality. To transform is to change before you have to; this is the playing to win mentality.
Living in Mexico I get to interact with many businesses and leaders who still operate by old ways of thinking and operating. They’re not technologists, nor do they have plans of hiring any. They see technologists as cheap freelancers who have learnt to make money fast today, and see technology as a cost rather than a catalyst for transformation for not just their business but their customers.
This is something that was confirmed during my discussion with Lewis Ferran, Gartner’s Director Business Development in Mexico. This has to change not just in Mexico but elsewhere.
Leaders must understand technology. But education isn’t enough, you must experiment
When we talk about the future of work and working with robots and AI powered assistants, most don’t know what this means. The rise big data, analytics and machine learning are changing the economics of automation, but also how we’ll have to shift the way we work.
This is why about a year and a half ago I gave a presentation to business leaders in Tijuana called the Next Economy, where I laid out the key emerging technologies that will drive the industries of the future and the next economy. This presentation was followed up by a series of workshops that helped them take concrete steps to think through how to adapt their business strategy.
Most had never heard about some of these technologies, or brainstormed how they could leverage the ones they’d known about. This isn’t surprising. Many talk about digital transformation, but it’s just lip service. Before talking about digital transformation, how about you transform yourself!
As a business leaders you need to educate yourself on emerging technologies. It’s not enough to read the news, articles or blog posts. You have to actually take steps to experiment with technology to get a sense of what it can do for your business and your customers.
You have to use it intensely, one time is not enough.
We live in a digital world already
Though technology takes time to be adopted, it’s never been adopted as fast as today. There are many reasons, one is this: the most valuable companies in the world, the ones that drive this economy and the next are technology companies; and they all have a play in every single emerging technology.
We’re talking about Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple; who’s services and devices we use on a day to day basis.
This doesn’t mean it’s game over. Far from it. It means you have to lead your company to the future. To do so you have to be adaptable. Adaptability is a key leadership trait. It’s the ability to learn as fast as the world is changing; because you either drive the future or let someone else define it for you.
Bottom line: Technology is no longer something left to the specialists, it’s the status quo. To compete in the digital age, you need to upskill yourself and the workforce. There’s no way around it.