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How HR can enhance leadership skills to bridge the digital-human gap

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Big data, AI, digital analytics and robotics have been promising to disrupt the world of work for some time. And now their disruptive influence is here. Disruptive, but also with the potential to be greatly beneficial to HR – both in terms of decision-making and time saved.

Upheaval in the workplace has forced companies to reinvent roles, benefits and the very definition of a career. Technology has transformed information sharing, communication and collaboration.

Perversely, in this digitally rich world, leaders are being encouraged to be more human, more approachable, while simultaneously remaining up to date in a fast-changing landscape.

A recent comprehensive poll of leaders as part of PwC’s 22nd annual CEO survey (including over 1300 CEOs from 91 jurisdictions) asked how worried they were about a range of potential threats to their companies. A skills gap within their workforces was rated as their top concern.

However, leaders need to be clear about identifying the expertise they require. So-called traditional skills such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, problem solving, resilience, creativity and innovation are still essential.

But if leaders are to realise the full value of these skills, they will need to carefully update and adapt the way they define and apply each of these skills for their own fast-evolving digital-human workplaces.

So the question is: How does a leader go about preserving their core skills while upgrading them for the fast-changing challenges of work?

It’s not enough to say, “Keep doing what you’re doing, but just be a bit more and agile and digitally savvy with it”. What’s needed is to redefine the situation from the inside out.

By doing so, leaders create a bridge from the old core skills to the new, and they can chart a tangible course of action for the team to follow to generate more value from each capability.

This fresh thinking doesn’t just put a fresh coat of paint on old infrastructure – it’s more concrete than that.

It builds leaders prepared for the future who can adapt to the unexpected circumstances they will invariably encounter in today’s volatile workplace.

So don’t wait for your favourite human resources magazine (unless it’s this one, of course) or social media influencers to tell you what needs doing. Coach yourself through the progression to master your own strengths and skills that will help your organisation adapt to the future of work.

Parts of this article were first published in strategy+business.

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