As we enter 2017, with only 3 years to go before we reach 2020, ending the first 20 years of this millennium, I believe all the changes we heard of and talked about will become a reality.
I have been talking a lot about the three forces that have a major impact on business and leadership and the theory now has become reality, and if you have not or are not prepared, the future will be very stressful.
These three things impacting business and leadership are the multigenerational workforce, technology and the impact your business has on the planet.
The impact of Millennials, GenX’ers and Baby Boomers in the same workplace have changed the way we not only do business, but also manage and lead businesses.
We only now begin to understand how Millennials changed the business environment. This year, the first of the next generation, the GenZ’ers or digital natives, will turn 17 and in the next few years, they will be entering the workforce – again completely changing what they expect of leaders and organisations.
Related: How managers can drive workforce performance
I believe that this generation will drive change faster and with more force than any other generation. There are currently three billion people (almost half the world’s population) under the age of 20 that will start reaching adulthood. This is the first generation in the history of the planet that does not know a world without technology or being connected digitally.
This is also the generation that understands that the future of the planet depends on them, which is why the next two drivers of change will be more important to understand than ever before. They will challenge power of governments and large, mostly immobile organisations and they will re-define the definition of wealth and power.
Understand their differences
It is a common fact that each generation differs from the other based on their upbringing and life experiences; leaving business leaders to have to deal with the different values and contributions that they bring to the workplace.
If the business leader does not understand the drivers of each generation, as well as his own, and not manage these factors to bring out the best in each individual, it might be difficult to avoid conflict in the workplace. Understanding the different generations and applying the positive benefits of what each generation brings to the company, is very important.
Also, remember that your company's customer base will also be made up of different generations and it is therefore crucial for your team to also understand the difference in drivers between generations, not only in their team, but in their customers in order to secure company growth.
Technology has been impacting our lives and workplaces over the last decade in a big way and changed how we do business completely. I believe we haven’t seen anything yet compared to what is coming.
Big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and super-connectedness will change every industry and major corporation. This very same technological advancement will make us more vulnerable as humans and this is something we will have to get used to. But, the biggest impact will be to understand how to lead people in this new world of technology.
Related: Using heart-centered leadership to engage your workforce
Tech and the environment
If predictions are correct and somewhat 40% of jobs will be automated or done by machines with the repetitive, labour intensive jobs to be replaced first, the learning of new skills, unlearning the old, outdated and irrelevant skills will be required by both leaders and their teams.
If your business is not already a force for good, putting the planet and people first it will not be supported by the next generations who, through their awareness that they are the ones who must save the planet, will not tolerate the destruction of planet. The major organisations chasing profits at the cost of people and the health of the planet will be challenged. There will be nowhere to hide.
Every business leader needs to re-define their business model, based on these three driving factors that are currently changing the world as we know it, and understand what will be expected of leaders, learn new behaviours and a new way of thinking about business.
A leader is the glue of an organisation. It will be expected that you live and breathe the organisation's values. In a world where there are no secrets anymore, a leader needs to be transparent and trustworthy. It will simply not be tolerable if they are anything else.
Your next move
Leaders that will be in high demand in the future will be individuals that can disseminate massive amounts of data and information (with the help of technology), make decisions and guide their teams through providing clarity in an uncertain world. Leaders who can create a vision and a way to achieve the vision – and living up to the expectations will be the new power.