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Future You: The Next Transformational Leader

No matter where you work or what you do, chances are that if you fixate solely on what has worked in the past, you’ll find the competition has passed you by. Technology and culture are simply changing too quickly for you to remain idle.

As a result, business outcomes must increasingly focus on experiences instead of projects, execution must be coordinated across departments instead of in silos, and the cadence of work must shift to a focus on continuous delivery instead of on quarters.

But this is not all about adopting gobs of digital technology. It’s about effectively leading the transformation—working across journeys, functions, and departments. So how do you become this kind of leader—a leader who can transform the way you and your teams do business?

Here are three suggestions.

1. Understand Work Pressures
You’re likely racing to digitize your processes across departments, from sales to finance to customer support and beyond. Since digitization saves time and money, this is without question the right direction to head. Your competitors are, as evidenced by IDC projections that spending on digital transformation will reach nearly $2 trillion in 2022.

And yet for all the benefits that digitization brings, it also brings new pressures. These pressures include an overwhelming number of software options, endless iterations, global competition, isolated workers, communication overload, information overload, and an increased rate of technological change.

What pressures do people at your company face? Do you know? If not, you might consider running an internal survey to find out. Ask what overwhelms them, what gets in the way of doing their best work, how digital technology helps or hinders their ability to get stuff done, and more. To alleviate the pressure your team members face as they transition to digital processes, start with understanding.

2. Make Change Management A Central Role
The speed of technological change will only get faster in the coming years. As a result, you need someone in a key role who understands what will stick versus what is just a fad, and fosters a culture of adaptation among teams. 

An impressive illustration of why change management matters comes from Domino’s Pizza. Around a decade ago, Domino’s decided to take the ample criticism of its pizza seriously and completely rework its product. They asked employees to contribute recipe ideas and then tested a wide range of possibilities, analyzing every single ingredient and completely revisiting their dough and sauce. With everyone’s contribution, the brand eventually launched a far better product, reflected by its jaw-dropping stock performance soon after.

It’s proof that change management is critically important, regardless of your industry. You can’t keep the status quo and hope for success. You have to change with the times.

3. Act Like The Future Of Work Is Human (Because It Is)
According to Gapingvoid co-founder and artistic director Hugh MacLeod, “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.” It’s true. Consumers want human stories that reach them at an emotional level. This is essential for building an empathetic and authentic brand.

The importance of relationships also extends into the workplace. Gallup research has shown “a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.” Another study, from Brigham Young University, showed that employee productivity increased by 20% after employees were randomly assigned to play video games together with team members they didn’t have a prior relationship with.

As a leader, seek for ways to foster these connections. Create spaces for co-workers to chat with each other, especially during lunch. Also consider hosting activities, including service activities, where team members can naturally introduce themselves to each other and get to know each other more effectively. No amount of digital technology can get in the way of building deep relationships.

New Leadership For The Era Of Modern Work
Tomorrow’s leaders must operate at a broader level. They’ll work across journeys, focus on experiences, coordinate at a global level, and shift their cadence from quarterly delivery to continuous delivery. But most of all, they’ll prioritize the people part, guiding and encouraging their teams along the way by modeling what it means to embrace change.

Embody these best practices, and you’ll become the transformational leader your enterprise needs.

Jon Ogden, senior manager of content marketing at Workfront, contributed to this article.

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