Are you ready to lead the Future of Work?

When I was at school I wanted to be in PR – I thought it would be exciting and glamorous and I could see myself making it big in the City wearing sharp power suits with big shoulder pads (It was the 80s!). I did work in PR when I left University, but not for a lifetime, for just 2 years before I traveled in Europe and my career path took a whole other direction. I think I’m on about my 7th‘career’ now…

My parents believed in jobs for life, but that myth was busted many years ago and that nature of work is shifting again with the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Heralded by rapid developments in robotics, artificial intelligence and genetics, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not only changing the nature of work, but also the perceived value of different jobs and skills. 

Not-so-soft skills are vital in the Future of Work

As machines take on routine tasks, ‘soft skills’ are being prioritised by employers, offering job seekers a potential competitive advantage in the job market. In their Annual Global CEO Survey, Price Waterhouse Coopers report that 52% of CEOs are exploring the opportunities of humans and machines working together and that finding skills for their future workforce was the biggest business threat they are facing.1

<<Related post: Leadership and change: is one making the other fail?>>

What skills are CEOs seeking?

Leadership is among the most desirable skills listed by CEOs in the PWC survey, along with problem-solving, adaptability, collaboration, creativity and innovation.

The Future Work – here, there and everywhere.

Alongside changing the nature of jobs, technology has enabled the rise of the Gig Economy through its power to connect buyers and hirers with sellers and service providers. The subsequent increase in contract, temporary and freelance work has been significant. In Australia, 4.1 million people or 32 per cent of the workforce freelanced between 2014-15, with the majority (58 per cent) making the shift by choice and approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left organisations to work as independent contractors in the last five years.2

Add globalisation to rapid technology developments and we see the way work is done also shifting. Teleworking is becoming mainstream, virtual teams that span countries, continents and times zones are common and the rise of the ‘digital nomad where a person can work from anywhere in the world looks to be the employment model of the future.3

These factors provide two challenges to leadership in the future of work:

  1. Keeping the talent you have from the lure of flexible – but sometimes fragile – freelance work.
  2. Developing new tools and approaches to harness the benefits of incorporating freelancers and remote workers into the workforce.

Old models of leadership won’t cut it in this new world of work.


What are you doing differently to lead in the Future of Work?

Dr Paige Williams

Dr Paige Williams

International Speaker, Author, Mentor


Determined to help leaders move beyond just the need for resilience, Paige provides practical, evidence-based strategies for leaders to become antifragile, lead themselves and their teams to thrive and succeed in the Decade of Disruption.

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