4th Industrial Revolution

How Business Leaders Will Succeed in the 4th Industrial Revolution

by David Kelynack, Chief Executive 2020 Exchange

The 4th Industrial Revolution is on the roll and there’s no going back.

Rapid tech advancement is its driving force, which brought about profound societal and economic changes. The world has become more globalised and interconnected than ever before.

Profitability isn’t the sole preoccupation of business leaders anymore. Social and environmental responsibility sits on top of the agenda. These seismic shifts have caused massive disruption and opened up new opportunities at the same time.

It’s clear we need capable leadership to illuminate the path ahead.

Indeed, true leaders are capable of tackling mounting complexities and navigating the dynamic landscape of today. They give business organisations a chance to dominate the market.

Here is what sets them apart from the crowd.

The Great Fusion of Technologies

Digital transformation has ushered in the age of Industry 4.0.

This revolution is fundamentally different from the ones that came before. We observe this through the lens of its very nature, complexity, scope, and scale.

The pace of change and progress is lightning-fast. Innovations emerge and are applied before most of us even take notice. Cyber-physical solutions are certainly at the forefront.

Take the example of the Internet of Things (IoT). It has integrated machines and devices with web connectivity and AI capabilities. Smart homes have emerged as a result, and smart cities and factories are nigh.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s not just one technology, but a confluence of different solutions that are reshaping the world. The array of tools and options is increasing and they cover everything from accounting to communication.

Turbulence and uncertainty can almost be felt in the air. From a business standpoint, this is a double-edged sword.

Leadership in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Leadership response has to be educated, comprehensive, and integrated.

And we don’t say that just because of all the tech marvels redefining how we live and work. Consumer preferences are shifting fast and business organisations are under ever-higher scrutiny.

They have to prove their commitment to improving the world around them. After all, technologies and business operations have a multitude of far-reaching implications.

Overlooking data security and integrity, for instance, can backfire spectacularly. We’ve seen it numerous times already, with brands compromising their reputation and budget.

Likewise, consumers eagerly evaluate the societal and environmental impact businesses make. Leaders have to realise how these two dimensions reflect on brand reputation and image. They may also want to tailor products and services to an increasing level of customer awareness.

All in all, the 4th Industrial Revolution is a mixed bag of challenges and opportunities. Yet, resistance to change isn’t the way to go. Leaders are better off showing adoption capability and taking decisive action.

This endeavour manifests on both a macro and micro level, as well as four core areas. These areas are society, technology, strategy, and talent.

A Matter of Style

Leadership styles aren’t created equal.

Some of them are relics of the old world and other propel companies to move ahead of the curve. Picking the right approach is a game-changer, a way to structure and educate your efforts.

Social supers are first on the list of effective leaders fit for Industry 4.0. Their defining trait is the ability to perform well by doing good. They are in tune with social initiatives fostering the modern social ecosystem.

What is more, they place a high value on training the workforce.

Next off, we have data-driven decisive leaders. These are the individuals who trust facts and figures beyond everything else. They are methodical and excel in strategic decision-making.

You don’t have to push them to adopt disruptive tech— they’re all over it.

The third category is talent champions. They go to great lengths to prime the workforce for digital transformation. Namely, they see human resources as the most powerful resource in the business arsenal.

Finally, disruption drivers, as the name suggests, embrace change and innovation. They see these processes as an opportunity to gain an edge over the competition. They are much less risk-averse and more confident than most other leadership types.

The United Front

Uniting customers and stakeholders around shared values, goals, and missions is a vital priority.

Where to start though?

Well, leaders must act as true role-models and lead by example. Their empathy should be evident, relationship management sound, and resolve contagious. A blend of hard and soft skills is what it takes for them to flourish.

Another crucial task is to flesh out decision-making processes and company policies.  They should be aimed at boosting employee engagement and satisfaction. It makes more sense to invest in and train the current workers than constantly hire new ones.

And the war for talent is heating up, you might need to go the extra mile.

In particular, note that the millennial workforce is poised to take over. It’s numerous and more than capable of spearheading the revolution. But the thing is, these people want to fight under the right banner.

They prefer collaborative organisations with a vibrant company culture.

So, do away with organisational silos and clogs in information pipelines. Open room for diverse perspectives, feedback, and idea exchange. Don’t hesitate to experiment and think outside the box.

Make bold investments to capitalise on the disruptive potential of new technologies.

You Can Either Shape up or Ship Out

The 4th Industrial Revolution is in full swing.

Strong leaders are in high demand and they need to serve as champions of progress. These visionaries are still few and far between, although that could change in the near future.

If you want to join their ranks, you will need to adopt the right forward-thinking mindset and leadership style. And develop a deeper understanding of all the implications revolution has for the society and the business world.

Have a crystal-clear strategic vision and plan for tapping into emerging opportunities.

Leverage tech tools, data, and other resources at your disposal. Build strong and motivated teams and people-oriented culture.

Following these steps, you’ll make your organisation future-proof and outpace the competition.

If you are open to the possibility of doing things differently and finding new ways, we’d like to hear from you. We can help you take your game to the next level.