Are you ready to lead the Future of Work?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. We’re living it now and we need to stop pretending it’s going to happen to someone else sometime in the future.

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. For some sectors, this means a change in the nature of tasks within job roles; for others, the impact is more significant. For example, some researchers predict that out of 97 million office and administration employees globally, 4.8 million or 4.9 per cent will be made redundant by 2020. (ref 1)

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.

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 world of 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 (ref 2) and approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left organisations to work as independent contractors in the last five years.

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. (ref 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 do we need to do differently?

Leveraging current leadership skills and mindsets is going to be critical to meet the changing demands of the new work context. Here are some examples:

1) Move from a mindset of ‘Profit’ to ‘Profit for Purpose’
By 2025,75% of the workforce will be Millennials. They want flexibility, integrity and purpose from their leaders; and they’re voting with their feet.

2) Embrace lifelong learning – for yourself and your team
All jobs will be impacted to some degree by technology. Workers will need skills – both technical and soft – gained through lifelong learning to meet these changing job demands. Those in organisations will be looking to their employers to provide them.

3) Develop the skills to lead in ambiguity and navigate rapid change
The pace and scale of change isn’t going to slow down. Effectively leading yourself and others in this context will require skills in developing trust and relationships quickly to enable transient teams that evolve and devolve based organisation needs, to perform well.

One clear lesson is that agility in skills, attitudes and mindset are a leadership essential for navigating the changes ahead. Are you ready?

Want to develop your leadership for the future of work?

Click here for information on Paige’s Leading Well workshop and here for her executive coaching programs.



1) World Economic Forum, 2016. 

2) Roos, G., and Shroff, Z. (2017, August 8). What will happen to the jobs? Technology-enabled productivity improvement – good for some, bad for others. Labour & Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work, 27(3), 165 -192. 

3) Deloitte. (2018, April 5). Insights from IMPACT 2018: The Rise of the Individual in the Future of Work. Retrieved from

Copyright 2019: Dr Paige Williams

Paige Williams, PhD

Paige Williams, PhD

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach

Paige helps leaders elevate their impact to lead teams who deliver results and create a culture that feeds high performance.

Leveraging Leadership for positive purposeful impact.