Plenty of worried executives aren't getting much sleep these days. Besides having to deal with big challenges centered on attracting and retaining the next generation of leaders, they face the bigger responsibility of staying competitive as digital disruption continues to transform the workplace.
With robotics and artificial intelligence projected to affect two billion jobs this decade, one truth remains steady as a rock in the digital era: To lead is human.
While we can take the easy way out and blame the lack of leaders on a seismic global talent shortage, instead we can begin to heed the advice of current research and best practices by teaching current leaders to lead effectively as humans in the age of robots. A few examples below should help curtail the insomnia of many executives.
1. Hire more female leaders
According to demographic data gleaned from more than 2,400 organizations around the globe, companies with more women in leadership roles across the board are 1.4 times more likely to have sustained, profitable growth, and are better prepared to handle digital disruption.
As published in the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, "Leaders from more gender-diverse companies were twice as likely as their low-diversity counterparts to report that their leaders work together to create new solutions and opportunities, and that multiple perspectives determine success."
2. Develop a purpose-driven culture
In the same study, it was found that companies with strong work cultures outperformed the market by 42 percent. Leaders responsible for crafting a high-performance culture systematically build cultural cornerstones such as a clearly communicated purpose, peer coaching, experimentation, psychological safety, and embracing diverse relationships across generational lines.
3. Give people a meaningful vision of the future
An increasing body of evidence confirms a simple fact: Happy people are better workers. In Annie McKee's popular HBR piece "Being Happy at Work Matters," her research team concluded that to be fully engaged and happy, virtually everyone wants to feel a sense of purpose in their work and have great relationships with peers and co-workers. The third finding? A meaningful vision of the future.
Most people, McKee's team found, want to be able to see a compelling vision of the future and know how they fit in. This requires strong leaders able to link the organizational vision to people's personal visions, and then communicate that vision consistently.
4. Invert the pyramid
Employing a bottom-up leadership approach by inverting the organizational pyramid results in greater trust among employees. It also enables workers to produce higher-quality and meaningful work, since the function of leaders at the "bottom" of the pyramid is to empower and grow their employees rather than "manage" the nuts and bolts of their jobs.
Day-to-day conversations in bottom-up leadership structures are different; the focus is on areas employees need help with the most, not on what their managers need them to do. From there, both parties actively co-create the possibilities to solve problems facing them.
Every rung of the ladder in an inverted pyramid supports those below it, which means the entire company is firing on full cylinders and reaching maximal efficiency.