I am sure that you hear this word a lot. It refers to the changes that technology is bringing to all corners of our lives. From the smartphones that we carry in our pockets that serve as everything from a phone to a news source to an alarm clock; to the ways digital platforms have quickly altered the landscape. For example, Uber and Lyft have upended the taxi business, and Airbnb has quickly taken a piece of the hotel business.
Technological advances have also brought change to the C-suite. In fact, many executives are convinced that technological change is the biggest, most disruptive force facing today’s corporations. We live in a time of rapid change when products and services often become obsolete overnight.
This has caused there to be a premium placed on a different executive skill set than of those of the past. Where once a long track record of managerial experience, adherence to pre-existing strategies, increasing efficiencies, and improving existing processes were skills that were valued, in the quickly changing business environment of today, executives must be nimble and enthusiastic about creating and building entirely new ways for their organizations to do business. When you look at companies and industries that are evolving rapidly, there are opportunities presented to help define that evolution. As processes and business models are reinvented by disruptive technologies, the most valuable leaders of tomorrow are those that can shape the impact of those changes, rather than react to them, and take advantage of those opportunities. Also, executives that are calm and effective in the “tumult” that results from reinventing long-standing processes are better prepared for the challenges that await them in the future.
An understanding and embracing of technology is a requirement of today’s effective executives. While they will not need to be able to code or be a developer in most cases, they will at least be required to establish a healthy understanding of the capabilities, applications, and future potential of emerging technologies. In fact, many companies are bringing people with strong tech backgrounds to their advisory boards in recognition of the fact that technology drives many of the core business functions that keep the companies competitive. Ever-changing technology also causes business models to be subject to disruption and evolution.
Technology is also causing organizations to become flatter and less hierarchal. Executives are finding that a key to their success in the evolving workspace is to have a high Emotional Quotient (EQ): the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. In other words, being able to get along well with others, and to be able to work effectively with others.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also becoming more and more prevalent in business. Executives must be able to understand how to delegate between humans and machines in a way that maximizes the capabilities of both. You cannot look at applying AI to your business processes without looking at the roles that people play in those operations. You must apply technology that optimizes the value of the people in those roles. Many in the workplace look at emerging technologies with fear and anxiety, but the most future-ready leaders are excited to integrate them into their workplace. They love anything that makes them better, helps them make better decisions, and see things more clearly. In addition, the executives know that they can provide for their organizations and the teams they direct things that AI can’t: accountability, transparency, fairness, honesty, and an ability to design systems and processes for humans.
While technology is quickly changing the workplace, its effects have provided fantastic possibilities for those executives that welcome and have a mindset and game plan to thrive in the disruption.