You don’t need a crystal ball to see that the world of work is changing. According to an important new study from McKinsey Global Institute, almost half the jobs people currently perform have the potential to be automated by currently existing technology. It sort of makes you wonder: what kind of work will be left for humans to do?
The answer: innovation. Clearly, to thrive in this new world of work will require different skill-sets, mindsets, and tool-sets. Chief among them: the need to bring people together as a team. The need to demonstrate deeper empathy. The ability to get new things done.
Innovation in the next economy is about much more than inventing. It’s about figuring out how and where you can add unique value. It’s about how fast you can unlearn, relearn and master new skills. It’s about how you engage others at a deeper, more humanistic and passionate level.
Here are six critical leadership skills that will help you turbocharge your career in the coming days:
1. You Continuously Embrace The Opportunity Mode Of Thinking
Innovation in the new workplace is not what you do after you get your work done; it’s how you approach your work. In its simplest form, innovation is coming up with ideas and bringing them to life. To solve problems. Create opportunities. Instead of innovation being a department (new product development, research and development, IT, etc.), it is quickly becoming everybody’s business.
In Opportunity Mode you are passionately alert to possibility, to unmet needs, to the power of imagination, and to the thrill of turning vision into reality. Where others see problems, you sense potential. When others stress over details, you see the big picture, the progress being made, the vision of how things can be but are not yet. You realize that your perspective and attitude determines everything. And you know progress will happen, if only you keep the mood right and press ahead.
Action step: Exercise your imagination muscle. To shift perspective at any time during your day, invite yourself to come up with additional solutions to a challenge you currently face. Ask yourself (and your team members): what are five alternate ways to address this problem? What 10 things are working well in my life, team, job or organization right now? Learn to be aware of what mode of thinking – Defeatist, Dreamer, Sustainer or Innovator – you are in at present, and invite yourself to shift.
2. You Are Adept At Assaulting Assumptions
Assumptions are like barnacles on the side of a boat; they slow us down. In my work with hundreds of teams, ranging from C-suite executives to graduate students to mid-level managers and front line employees, I’ve developed some simple but powerful techniques to help people blast away at assumptions. This proactive bombardment of new stimuli is essential because the brain, left to its own devices, routinely takes what brain researchers call “perceptual shortcuts” to save time and energy.
Years of experience in an industry, profession or job can also be a deterrent. “It’s always been done that way” or “we already tried that” are often a sign that you and your team could use a technique to move beyond habitual thinking blocks in order to imagine alternate possibilities. Innovation begins where assumptions end. In today’s hypercompetitive world, we can either assault our assumptions, or somebody else will do it for us and reap the benefits.