The ability to evolve and leverage new processes, technologies and management styles keeps a business nimble and resilient to market conditions. With more than half of all companies failing in their first four years (51% of manufacturing companies), companies are being forced to change and adopt new philosophies.
A big part of this is the pace at which we now work. Those that follow the same old blueprint risk adherence to a broken managerial and operations model – one that cannot keep up with turnover rates, educational gaps in the workforce, and the advanced industry 4.0 toolset now at our fingertips.
We now know that command and control leadership no longer work. Companies that survive do so through a smart investment of their resources. Let’s take a look at some common traits of leaders that thrive in this environment, and how to leverage similar processes to succeed.
With the fast-pace at which we work, learning is now part of the job and even part of the compensation package. If you’re not learning, you’re going to be behind. Improved training programs lead to improved quality performance, enhanced safety statistics, and increased profits for the company. With nearly 30% of activity on a factory floor unplanned, training is one of the most effective tools you have to improve overall performance. For management, in particular, it can provide immense benefits to leverage new tools and processes for better operations.
Today’s most successful leaders are entrepreneurial. They know how to motivate others. They are engaged and empowered to work cooperatively with the organization, creating knowledge workers who are proactive in improving performance. The top-down approach to management is slow and ineffective in a world with constant communication and Industry 4.0 tools democratizing Lean practices. Management should reflect that with a more responsive approach to their employees.
Today’s leaders enable their employees. They build relationships and create a network that supports each other on common goals. Tools like the Digital Andon Cord break down silos and enable employees to communicate directly with management, sharing concerns from the bottom up. Employees who are more engaged at work are 59% less likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Real-time data collection improves safety, enables knowledge input from the front line, and bolsters performance at all stations.
Successful leaders are architects who know that operations are just as important as strategy. They leverage positive psychology in their practices, responding to the positive things people do instead of the traditional model of emphasizing negative feedback and tightly controlling people in a punitive environment.
A strong leader is able to both zoom in and evaluate problems close up, taking an active role in the operational details of a problem, and to zoom out and see the big picture – the impact on the business as a whole. The best leaders recognize when they are too close or too far away from a problem and adjust. In today’s fast-paced environment, these adjustments must be made quickly. Technology can help by providing the macro-level intelligence needed to see the whole picture alongside the micro-level analysis needed to act on it.
Preparing for the Future of Work
The future of work is about the knowledge and experience of your employees. People have more choices to work on projects. They are not as concerned with titles and are learning new skills and working in different teams throughout the day. They are prepared for the next wave of technology and excited to participate in the ongoing growth of the business.
The result is a stronger, more dynamic workforce that can stand against rapidly shifting market conditions and help the company excel.
In our next webinar, we’re joined by Harvard Business School instructor Genet Jeanjean, MA MEd to discuss recent HBS and MIT research on the future of work, touching on key elements that help businesses survive and thrive in an ever-changing environment.
She’ll discuss why businesses are moving too fast for the old style of leadership to be effective, why companies need people who can think and solve problems in new ways, and the specific steps you can take to balance freedom and control and get the best out of your team.