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New Work Smarts 1 of 3

Posted by
Rebecca Livesey

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending CEDA’s Women in Leadership lunch about Redefining the Workforce. The first speaker Jan Owen AM – CEO Foundations for Young Australians, delivered a fascinating talk about what work will look like in 2030 and how we need to equip people with the skills to thrive in this environment.

What was interesting to me, was how the feminine is coming to play more than ever if people want to thrive in this new environment. And if we continue to devalue the feminine as a society, we are not preparing ourselves for the future.

Now Jan didn’t describe it in these terms but as we go through the key points we can see how the need for flexibility, embracing uncertainty, working with people, valuing care, and creativity are coming through loud and clear. And this isn’t at the expense of the masculine either. The need for problem solving and critical thinking, is very much on the up too.

And what does it mean for leadership? If this is the workplace in the future we not only need to prepare young people coming into it, we also need to prepare the leaders that are in it already. We need to make sure leadership capability is there to deal with the environment and the new workers coming in.

One statement really stood out:

‘Today’s 15-year-olds will likely navigate 17 changes in employer across 5 different careers. They will sometimes be self-employed, at other times working with and for others.’

From an individual perspective imagine the flexibility required for this and the focus needed on transferable skills rather than those specific to an industry or role.

And from a leadership lens how do we make sure we value this rather than reverting to the traditional mindset that ‘job hopping = no commitment’.

We say we value transferable skills but how many times have you seen certainty win in your organisation ie leaders would rather recruit someone from the same industry even if another applicant had better skills but no specific industry experience.

And what about the leadership skills needed for teams where people move in and out, making sure that the team still functions and maintains a strong culture and delivery dynamic. And consider the ability needed in our leaders to ‘let go’ if you’ve invested and trained someone only to have them leave.

Jan’s goal is to prepare young people for the changes through ensuring our education systems keep up and through FYA is calling for a renewed, comprehensive and inter-generational investment in Australia’s young people. You can read the full report here.

But I also think it’s extremely important that we educate leaders and businesses too, as we are going to have to change the way we lead if we want anyone to thrive in this new environment.

And let’s remember – we are creating this world right now. We who are in business and leadership at the moment. It’s not as if it’s just happening to us by accident. We need to make sure we are developing, investing in and honouring a leadership skillset that can keep up.

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