From marketing to mar-teching: The future of work

While AI will be able to help us manage, we will still need strong leaders to lead our people through this unprecedented time of change, says Jane McCarroll.

Whether we like it or not we are now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There is heaps of discussion and speculation going on, even about the future of work itself. What will tomorrow and the day after that look like in our work places? What will the robots will be doing? Where will the humans fit in?

Our organisation, the Institute of Management New Zealand (IMNZ), is taking practical and positive steps to prepare us to be part of that future. We have put together a series of events in partnership with IBM about the Future of Work.

We will be looking at the predictions for what the workforce will look like in 2020, the skills leaders will need in the new era, and what artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will deliver to lead business performance.

It got me thinking about the key things I am doing to accelerate my own career and strategies. I am undertaking to bring out the best in myself and in others.

I think, regardless of the jobs we do and the companies we work for, we are still (and always will be) people dealing with people and in order to effectively lead today into the future, our first job is to work on ourselves.

Once we understand ourselves and realise the impression we have on people and know how others perceive us, we can develop strategies to help us lead our troops through the changes that lie ahead. 

The good news is change is the only constant. Here are some lessons from the coal face as I make my way up to the c-suite.

Leading by example: I am a big believer in doing the work on myself first, so that I know my strengths and which areas need more development. I know how I receive information and how my colleagues and associates see me. I also think knowing myself is key to understanding how best to manage my communication style to bring out the best out of every relationship.

Coaching leadership: I believe in a coaching leadership – and I’m not alone in that. Recent research conducted with our partners at Massey University found coaching leadership is the number one priority for people and organisation development across Australia and New Zealand. Coaching leadership encourages self-discovery and self-discovery presents opportunities. Self-worth and self-awareness underpin a more developed appreciation for life and a more considered leader, who leads by example.

Leading others through building greater connections: I cannot overestimate the importance of building and nurturing relationships with all those around you. Good relationships are like insurance for the occasions when things might not go to plan. On those occasions you need to dig deep and call on the discretionary efforts of yourself and those around you to deliver good outcomes when the circumstances are less than ideal. Moving from strategy to innovation is underpinned by healthy, productive relationships. Digital disruption, artificial intelligence (AI) and new business models are reshaping our landscape which presents both obstacles and opportunities. And, while robots will be able to help us manage, we will still need strong leaders to lead our people through this unprecedented time of change. I, for one, am excited at the opportunities this new dawn presents.

Leading business performance: Leading business performance drives better outcomes and optimises performance. I have spoken before about resilience and building the skills within our teams to have strategies to cope when under times of stress. Living in New Zealand, we can (and have) found ourselves working through life-shattering natural disasters – but stress can be caused by many things. When working in a time of unprecedented change or stress, we need to empower our people with the tools to manage and optimise performance. We can’t change the fact that highly stressful events will occur, but we can choose how we interpret and respond to them. It is our responsibility as leaders to show the way. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell. 

Design thinking: Greater insights that are now at our fingertips with the introduction of AI and data science allow us to capture new market segments, learn quickly and shape further developments and investments based on real time learning and experience. Design thinking helps us transform our businesses and how we communicate. It is not just for products and services. It is often referred to as human-centred design because it is about applying the principles of design to the way people work. The principles can be applied to internal change initiatives as well as the creation and adoption of innovations. At the core of design thinking lie insights into the needs of our customers. This is exactly how I move from strategy to innovation. Working backwards from an exceptional customer experience underpins all that I do.

In my (humble) opinion, happy people go further and get there faster. Be comfortable with change, it’s the only constant. My goal is to empower those around me to be comfortable with change and build capability from the inside out.

Artificial Intelligence will help us navigate digital disruption: Personalisation is going to change what we see and read. As a marketer I’m working backward from having a deeper knowledge across the companies, audiences and members we work with. At the end of the day, our careers are a voyage of self-discovery, and we never stop learning.

My question for the robots is this. Will the girl robots get paid the same as the boy robots? We humans are still working on that one. 


Jane McCarroll is the marketing and membership manager at IMNZ. The Institute of Management NZ helping leaders step up and lead
since 1946.

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