Does your leadership level match the requirements for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

By Per Poulsen, CEO, HUMI

From a historic to a future leadership perspective

In order to ensure that we as leaders act at a leadership level that develops the culture of our organization and that matches the demands and requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is necessary to be aware of the level of leadership – on which we are currently acting.  

Many leaders act at a leadership level, that is one or more levels below what is required to successfully lead and develop an organization for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The challenge is that many leaders perceived themselves, as actually acting and leading at the right leadership level. The difference in perception of leadership levels is mainly caused by the fact that many leaders evaluate their own leadership behaviour in relation to what they have previously done. A historical perspective based on previous leadership patterns and behaviors, repeating leadership actions from last year, and the year before that.

To thrive and be successful in the world of tomorrow, requires a different leadership perspective. A future perspective preparing the organization and the culture for the constantly rising speed of change, mounting complexities and the competitiveness for attracting and retaining the best employees.

The stakes are high and leaders of today can leave nothing to chance. The important question is, how do we as leaders inspire ourselves to higher leadership acting, in an unknown future with uncertainties and no predefined requirements. How do we lead with rapidly new technologies, new demands, new requests and the need to be in the front line to create top performances – on a daily basis? How do we develop an organizational culture – that encourages organizational agility and innovation?

The answer lies in being able to determine and distinguish what leadership level we are currently acting on, and what competencies and skills we need, to be able to lift our leadership to the next level.

The 7 levels of leadership

To provide a powerful tool to look at the different leadership levels through self-assessment and the leadership actions needed, to develop and transform the organizational culture for the future demands – we have developed the seven levels of leadership.

A short brief of the different levels are listed below. 

Level 1 – Tasks: The capability of understanding a task, structuring and planning the work, executing and monitoring the task, meeting specific defined goals. Taking full responsibility for the quality and usability of the product or service.

Level 2 – Self: This is the capability of handling thoughts and emotions in an empathetic way. Gaining personal insight and identity. Creating authenticity of who I am, my weaknesses and strengths. Especially under pressure and stressful situations. Here also lies the pathway for courage and energy, to be decisive to take on the leadership role.

Level 3 – Others: Understanding enough about myself, so that I can create empathy with my employees and help them in managing their tasks and responsibilities. With respect for their competencies and skills and through involvement of their resources. Ensuring work motivation and focusing on their general well-being.

Level 4 – Teams: This is the capability of understanding human motivation to a degree, that makes it possible to differentiate the interaction with each employee, so that they are individually motivated. Additional understanding the value of the differences in employee personalities and competencies and actively utilizing this to create and develop the team. Thereby strengthening each team members understanding of their role and the synergy of being different. Encouraging the individual and team effort.

Level 5 – Engagement: This level is truly understanding what engages people – the value of engagement and how to engage the employees through interaction, utilizing the core tasks to create higher levels of engagement. Through authentic involvement in the why’s, the what’s and the how’s embodied in the solution of the core tasks. Thereby raising the understanding of the value that I, my team and my organization contribute to with regards to our customers, stakeholders and society at large. Through this process showing that all energy accumulated from every person through every team is appreciated and efficiently use, to raise the value of the product or service. At the same time everyone feels that their uniqueness is a part of the overall contribution. Through this creating an understanding of true meaning and higher purpose for all employees.  

Level 6 – Change: This is the capability of understanding that change is the only constant and that change creates a powerful platform to raise the organizational skills and corporate understanding. The leader has a high level of trust in the employees and delegates authentically the task of planning and executing the change while supporting them with professional facilitation, so that the change is executed with regards to their experiences. The leader understands how to share the intention and the need for change in a way, that sets all involved employees free to contribute. Embracing change through passion and inspiration.

Level 7 – Culture: This level holds the deepest understanding and meaning of the values, strategy and vision of the organization. This enables the leader to evaluate and align all signals, be it communication, actions, behaviors, decisions etc. to the organization. Thereby being able to plan and execute the what’s, meaning the things that need to be done in the perspective of the how’s, so that it is done in the way that clearly signals the alignment to the mission, values and vision of the organization. 

The model also clarifies the importance of a high level of four competencies moving up through the different leaderships levels; Emotional Intelligence, communication skills , abstract thinking and complex problem solving.

Leading authentically

To evolve through the different levels, it is necessary to live and lead one level authentically before moving up to the next level. A leader on the highest level contributing with cultural leadership lives and leads authentically all seven leadership levels.

The way we lead organizations today may not necessarily work tomorrow! Although in some ways a far-fetched assumption – the truth is compellingly clear. As leaders of the future, we need to match and constantly rematch the requirements for a continuously changing world.