Technologies that were once considered “emerging,” such as AI and blockchain, are now household names, and they’re predicted to generate 133 million new jobs globally by 2022. Despite this, today’s CEOs and business leaders are still trying to figure out how to harness the full potential of these technologies and which technologies they should invest in.
Paramount to the success of any business when trying something new is its employees — people who are not only open to change and willing to adapt alongside the technology, but who recognize the potential of the technology and how it can augment their jobs for the better.
I call these people “transformers.” Transformers are vital to the success of businesses of any size because they are adaptable, open to controlled risks and are focused on the big picture.
Fortunately, business leaders don’t have to look far and wide for this exceptional talent; they can find it within their four walls. Here are four ways CEOs can find and empower transformers within their organizations:
1. Look for employees who are doing their jobs, not just keeping them.
People who focus on keeping their jobs are in protection mode. They are not focused on learning new skills or executing at pace; instead, they are focused on job protection, corporate politics and what’s happening today. When people focus on the job at hand rather than the surrounding politics, they automatically become better transformers.
So, how can you find those transforms who are focused on doing their jobs? It’s a specific mindset. These people are focused on moving their organization ahead, meeting their goals and being lifelong learners who are valuable in today and tomorrow’s workforce. In the workforce of tomorrow, the keepers will lose and the doers will thrive.
2. Get new voices into the room.
Diversity and inclusion aren’t “nice to haves;” they are business imperatives. Encouraging an ecosystem of diversity within your organization will stimulate innovation and empower transformers.
It’s about pairing the traditional “suits” of the business world and the “jeans” of the startup/tech world at the leadership level and across all teams.
Effective leadership requires diverse and broad thinking across gender, age, ethnicity and expertise. Without diversity, businesses will never successfully solve the complex problems in times of uncertainty.
3. Get your hands dirty.
Business leaders need to encourage experimentation. Pilots don’t always work, but failing fast and failing often are extremely important to this trial-and-error process.
It’s about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable when experimenting with new technologies. Don’t be afraid to develop internal scar tissue from trial and error to see where technology is best applied and how to effectively scale it.
Leaders and employees don’t just need to embrace new technologies; they need to leverage technology to its full potential to truly become business transformers.
4. Surround yourself with people who will ask the uncomfortable, difficult questions.
Leaders need to be champions of collaboration and think very differently about their entire ecosystem. Whether you’re a 15- or 150-year-old company, everyone wants to protect the original revenue driver even when they know change is coming. You have to accept and get comfortable with change.
Many organizations succeed in implementing technology into business units, but fail to integrate it across the organization – creating silos that damage their culture and business prospects. Make cross-collaboration a priority. This alignment in the public, private and academic spheres is critical to knowing what is coming and what is possible.
When business leaders advocate for their people, as well as new technologies, they begin to identify the game-changers who are on board with rapid business transformation. Once people are familiar with technology and its positive impact, they’ll advocate for organizationwide adoption.
Empowering employees and enabling them to find deeper meaning in their work starts with building a culture of transformers. As the workforce continues to transform, so too should the ways in which we empower leaders to collaborate, solve and innovate.