I’ve heard it said that the only constant you’ll have in life is laundry: it’s always there, waiting to be done. Like everything else, business is in a constant state of change. Though we’ve changed our name, we’ve been around since 1992 and I’ve seen business morph and change on a regular basis ever since. Here are just a few of the things we must adjust to as leaders in business.
Our ADD World
I don’t say this in jest; we truly live in a world today where it’s impossible to focus on one thing. We’re bombarded with bits of information constantly every day, with technology tempting us to lose focus no matter where we look. Our coping mechanism? We do our best to filter through the messages (in the form of advertisements, email notifications, texts, social media, etc.) by ignoring many of them. We’re not masters at only listening to half a conversation and ignoring information that overwhelms us or that we see as not critical.
Leaders today are put to task to engage employees while the rest of the world attempts to distract them. Before the Internet and smart phones, employees were able to leave work and engage with their families. They could enjoy some down time—or time alone with their spouse—after their kids went to bed. Now they continue working well into the night because, well, they were so distracted during the day that they still have items on their to-do list.
We’re Too Connected
In the same vein, technology may have increased productivity but the cost is human connection. We spend so much time on our smart phones that we tend to brush off the people sitting right in front of us. Virtual meetings allow us to connect people from all over the world in “face to face” workspaces, but there’s no handshake of yesterday’s business. As a result, trust has taken a hit and leaders find it difficult to build a team environment with virtual offices keeping employees from working in the same physical space. Meanwhile, personal relationships start to impact the workplace because we’re not paying enough attention to loved ones while we’re away from the office and paying too much attention to them while we’re in the office, thanks to technology.
Top Talent is Retiring
The Baby Boom generation is well into retirement age and the younger workforce isn’t replacing them fast enough. We’ve failed to fully utilize Boomers as the mentors they are to help develop tomorrow’s leaders, leaving many business leaders to wonder who will take over the helm.
I don’t think all is lost though. Venetians didn’t know they were shaping what would later be called The Renaissance, and I believe we’re on the verge of our own transformation. The biggest challenge (and opportunity) is to ensure that our leaders are engaged, allowing teams to become productive and efficient workers that want to make a difference in society. We must grow leaders who can develop the skills that will allow them to lead authentically and with purpose.
There’s no telling where business will take us in another 20 years. The fact remains that there will be change; it’s how we grow and change with the environment that will determine our ultimate success.