Now that technology is becoming more transparent, the focus will start shifting back to what being human is all about. That presents a massive challenge for the leaders of today.
Have you noticed how many South African politicians have been talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution? And they do it with such enthusiasm and pride, as if they’ve discovered some wonderful secret that nobody else knows. The Mail & Guardian has in fact analysed this phenomenon and found that it started with comments by then South African President Jacob Zuma in 2016 and has been picked up by dozens of politicians since.
Someone however needs to tell them that they’ve arrived a bit late for the party and that they need to be talking instead of the FIFTH Industrial Revolution!
You see, “4IR”, as politicians love to call it, which is all about automation, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Learning, Data Analytics and so on, is already upon us so there’s not much anyone can do about it.
The good news is that, while 4IR was all about taking humans out of the workplace, 5IR – the Fifth Industrial Revolution – will be all about putting humans and humanity BACK into the workplace.
So, if you want to think and act strategically, that’s where you should be focusing!
More and more literature is appearing in support of leaders becoming more philosophical, and more in tune with the greater good of humanity than just the greater good of the shareholder.
In fact, Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff told the World Economic Forum that he sees a crisis of trust in technology coming. He claimed that, in the Fifth Industrial Revolution, companies are going to have a Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer whose job it is to make sure the company is using technologies for the good of the world.
Bet executive boards busy awarding themselves undeserved fat bonuses haven’t seen that one coming!
Placed against a backdrop of increasing corruption at all levels of society, both in the political as well as the business sectors, it should however come as no surprise.
The time has therefore arrived for leaders to drop the masks they have worn for the past however many years to reveal the real human beings they really are. This is going to require a massive mindshift and significant courage because business leaders will have to confront their own vulnerability – something they’ve never had to do before.
It’s been easy to put on a macho mask at work where employees see a carefully stage managed persona. It however won’t be so easy to show people the real you. In fact, many business leaders have become so used to playing roles throughout their working lives that they actually don’t know who they really are any more.
During my time as an employee in the corporate world, it always intrigued me at the year-end functions to see the big deal senior managers when they had their wives with them. Men who strutted the corridors, barked orders and chatted up the young female employees with a swagger suddenly changed personality and appeared very docile when walking next to their wives because they obviously wore two masks – one for work and another mask at home.
So the corruption that manifested in society was merely the result of leaders lacking authenticity and ethics, which were discarded in the interests of accumulating more wealth under the guise of being “smart” at doing business.
If, therefore, you want to be a “go to” person as the Fifth Industrial Revolution approaches, start reframing your leadership competencies to become more human, more authentic more ethical and more trustworthy.
By doing this, you will put yourself ahead of the political and business leaders who belatedly rush to show how authentic and ethical they are when they see which way the wind is blowing.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, and @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and teaches experienced business leaders and Millennial managers how to lead with integrity, purpose and agility. In 2018, he was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the “Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter”.