Hey CEOs: Are You Ready to Get Uncomfortable?
What will leading a competitive company look like in 20 years?
Georg Vielmetter, the European regional director of Hay Group's Leadership and Talent practice, and Yvonne Sell, Hay Group's Director of Leadership and Talent for the United Kingdom and Ireland, shared their answers in the book they co-wrote, "Leadership 2030: The six megatrends you need to understand to lead your company into the future."
Vielmetter and Sell say that, a decade ago, employees knew your name, what you looked like, and your reputation. "Now they know your salary, your hometown, your connections on LinkedIn, how much your house is worth. They know more than ever, and you're under pressure to share more than ever, too. Seventy-six percent of global executives think it's a good idea for their CEO to be on social media," the two write in Harvard Business Review. "Along with this increased transparency, you're held accountable for areas you know less about: new technologies, new markets, new cultures and geographies representing new stakeholders. It's no wonder CEO tenure is declining."
In the book, they examine the repercussions on leadership by combined forces of globalization, climate change, increased individualism, and accelerating digitization. It wasn't a pretty picture: "Among our findings is that leadership in the future will involve increased personal and business-level discomfort. Leaders will have to cope with the blurring of private and public life--and they will have to forge new relationships with competitors and employees. This requires new skills and mindsets. Ego is on its way out," Vielmetter and Sell explain in HBR. Below, check out what the two believe being CEO in the future will look like.
You'll be out of your depth when it comes to technology.
Technology will continue to advance with robotics, sensors, and microcomputers, and thus will be a source of discomfort. "Leaders will increasingly be called to evaluate and implement new technologies they don't always understand and can't control, from the cost-benefits of data automation to balancing consumer concerns with data mining opportunities to gauging the commercial value of Bitcoin and other new concepts," they write. "As connectivity-enabling technology and virtual workplaces change how people interact, leaders must engage employees across cultures and business roles through new mediums." Above all, they stress, "leaders must acquire digital wisdom, even if they lack digital knowledge."
Globalization will force competitors to play nice.
Vielmetter and Sell believe that "digitization with globalization and consumer demands for personalized products will complicate the usual processes and relationships." Competitors will have to become allies to work faster across continents and feed demand in what are today developing countries. "Such 'co-opetition' will require leaders to maintain a difficult dual perspective--rivals must be simultaneously seen as both vital partners and market threats."
Corporate hierarchies will go flat.
The duo say the most difficult adjustments leaders will have to deal with are power structure changes, which will greatly challenge traditional definitions of their jobs. "Many [leaders] are accustomed to command-and-control, to fear over love, and to 'lead, follow, or get out of the way.' But hierarchies are flattening as power moves away from top internal management and toward employees and a proliferation of external stakeholders," they write. "Companies must now appeal to a plethora of global consumer markets, each with distinctive attitudes and desires." Leaders who rely on their imagined power over others will not thrive. The leaders who succeed will be what they term "altrocentric," and focus on others rather than themselves. They'll be relationship-centric, prefer engaging rather than commanding, and consistently act as though they, too, are part of the team.
Rise of socialized power.
The altrocentric leader, Vielmetter and Sell say, is motivated by "socialized power." Such leaders will draw "strength and satisfaction from teaching, teambuilding, and empowering others" and will be able to handle the overwhelming pressures and realities of tomorrow, Vielmetter and Sell write. "They understand that they need not 'have all the answers' themselves, and this mindset and willingness to turn to others for help better equips them to handle the stress of the uneasy chair."
WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com
Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.