Future-proof leaders are in high demand; here's a quick rundown of how managers of tomorrow can upskill in a digital-first world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Future-proof leaders are in high demand; here's a quick rundown of how managers of tomorrow can upskill in a digital-first world.

In an era of continuous change, the role of the mid-management is evolving. The change wrought by the pandemic has impacted the manager’s role more than ever, with the introduction of hybrid and staggered teams. Changing team dynamics with the mix of Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X, is now demanding more inclusive leadership approaches, in today’s virtual world. The challenges of the pandemic and the remote working model in many organisations have led to the middle manager playing a central role in keeping the wheels of business turning. Therefore, as organisations recover from the pandemic into the new normal, with buzz-business-words being ‘automation’ and ‘digitization’, middle managers have a unique opportunity to take on new roles as the core change leaders.

Traditionally, the legacy role played by the middle manager was restricted to connecting the leadership to the workers with a focus on implementation, monitoring, motivating, managing conflicts, etc. However, the digital revolution is resulting in organizations moving from a hierarchical structure to one that is horizontal with collaborations between teams playing a key role. Efficient and transparent digital channels have eliminated the role of middle management in sharing of information. As middle managers assume leadership responsibilities in addition to their conventional duties, they need to emerge as leaders and champions of change.

To champion change, the middle management will need to acquire new skills that will include a range of leadership and management capabilities, especially in light of the current virtual world and hybrid team structures. Successfully developing both these skill sets will also ensure that the middle managers are well-positioned and prepared for future leadership positions.

It is here that skilling plays a critical role in equipping managers for the era of automation and digitization and managing hybrid teams. The challenge is that with every job becoming more automated, technology-enabled, and complex, the half-life of business skills is less than two years[1].

This is cited by the McKinsey Global Institute report on “Harnessing automation for a future that works” which indicates that 50% of all tasks currently performed by humans are automatable with the technology available today, while another 15% will be automatable soon[2]. The next two decades will see automation of 65% of all activities currently performed by humans. While new jobs will also be created, there will be the challenge of bridging the skill gap that arises.

Most organizations struggle to create and sustain a strong leadership team. Over 80% of organizations are faced with a shortage of leadership[3]. At the same time, they are unable to create effective leadership development programs. Developing existing middle managers to take up senior leadership positions is the most logical and sustainable approach to building a strong and future-ready leadership team.

It is here that management skilling will help empower middle managers and develop talent to drive the next crop of future-proof leaders for a new, digital-first world. However, we must remember that the required future skills are not just digital skills but must also be human and meta-skills. The answer is a radical shift in approach to skilling through a culture of continuous learning with reskilling, upskilling, and transformation of the workforce regularly.

Therefore, preparing middle managers for senior-level responsibilities is an important aspect of developing human capital and talent in an organisation. As leaders of tomorrow, they will need resilience and patience with the ability to embrace change in a dynamic world. When things go off routine and become unpredictable, leadership is called upon, and it is here that new-age MBA programs play a big part. MBA programs have been well-known for developing the requisite skills needed by business leaders to meet business expectations and deliver maximum results. This includes critical and strategic thinking, and the ability to adapt and work in a dynamic, challenging environment.

The MBA programs are also evolving and are aligned with the changing job specs for enabling wider opportunities for today’s workforce. For instance, upGrad offers a diversified palette of Global MBAs which are World Education Services (WES) recognised and cover focussed areas like Business Economics, Marketing Strategies, Strategic Thinking & Planning Abilities, Integrated Business Strategy Formulation, and Design Thinking, to name a few. It also offers hands-on project-based learning for driving maximum career benefits after the course completion.

It’s the era of modern MBA programs that can prepare the next generation of leaders with cutting-edge skills and a mindset that encourages lifelong learning!

 

Arjun mohan
Arjun Mohan, CEO – India, upGrad

References:

[1] https://joshbersin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/OperationalSkillsManagementV31.pdf

[2] https://www.ashoka.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/2018_the_skilling_challenge_ashoka_mckinsey.pdf

[3] https://www.marshmclennan.com/content/dam/mmc-web/insights/publications/2019/sep/Leadership.Dvelopment.Trends.2019.pdf

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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