Understanding how to manage a workplace of the future requires a shift in mindset. The structures and frameworks that have been in place since the original industrial revolution in the 19th century have no empathy for the changing role employees working within organisations.

C-Suite executives now need to accommodate for a workplace that will soon be equally represented by intelligent technology and human beings, creating a shift in how they approach management.

For Steve Lennon, Cognizant’s digital partner for manufacturing, logistics, energy & utilities, it is time for leaders to start thinking seriously about this conundrum.

“It is time for us as leaders to step out of the middle where we are taking up space, and actually step back and focus on creating space in which other people can do fantastic work.”

Steve likens this shift in management style to that of a conductor in an orchestra. With the full suite of musician’s at their disposal, the conductor takes on a guiding role.

“The orchestral conductor is a good analogy for the change we will see. Having the orchestral capability to coordinate things, to create context, and meaning, is important because we will have so much more ‘to do’.”

Steve believes this shift will help accommodate the transformation of the enterprise. It will accommodate for increased ecosystems and vendor networks, as well as the eventual co-habitation of the workplace with robots and humans.

“We will be increasingly watching teams form, reform, deform, especially in an agile kind of world, we have to orchestrate those changes.”

Becoming the Maestro

Understanding the role of the new business leader for Steve is about understanding these nuances of a conductor and applying them to the context of your business.

“Conductors sustain the tempo, the ability to do this is like managing cadence in a transformation journey… to flag upcoming changes of direction in the musical score, to let people know that there’s a change of course coming.”

A critical element that the conductor has is in connecting the elements together is providing context. As Steve explains, although the violinists are over at this side of the stage probably can’t really hear what the flutists are doing, the conductor acts as the lynchpin to overall delivery.

Taking up the Baton

Steve recommends that leaders need to secure a ‘license to orchestrate’. To do this executives need to master the soft-skills and recognise that speakers need to stop taking up space at the center of the conversation.

“Your license to orchestrate will need to be gifted to you by your teams at large, and your bosses above. They’ll need to be confident that by letting go of the reins you can create the loose/tight environment in which peak performance can be sustained.”

“It will take some practice, and a bit of trial and error along the way.”

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