Hiring Leaders for an Industry 4.0 World

For organizations to prosper in a 4.0 World their leaders must learn how to release their people’s creative energy.

The world has entered into the fourth industrial revolution: Industry 4.0. Whereas, in the past, Western economies led the first three industrial revolutions, this remains to be seen for Industry 4.0.

Who will lead this next industrial revolution is still up for grabs! The question is, what will the differentiator be for winning organizations?  The common theme of the first three industrial revolutions was the reduction of the organization’s dependence on its human capital. Industry 4.0 is about to change that.

Industry 4.0 is driven by an electronically connected world. In the emerging 4.0 World, people are connected not only to each other, but also to each other’s knowledge. We now live and work in a world in which knowledge is growing exponentially. Since knowledge equals opportunity, the opportunities available to organizations are also growing exponentially. And because everyone is connected to this knowledge, everyone is connected to these opportunities.

Competitive advantage today lies in an organization’s ability to exploit this knowledge and spot opportunities before anyone else. Companies that can consistently do this faster than their competition will thrive.

An interesting by-product of this knowledge explosion is that the days of the all-knowing, all-seeing manager are over. Organizations are ripe with highly educated knowledge workers. That’s a key difference between now and the First Industrial Revolution, when our current management systems were invented.

Here’s a nice bit of alignment: we have an explosion of knowledge and at the same time that we have growth in the capability of the organization’s employees to understand and make use of this knowledge. The continued prosperity of already successful organizations now depends directly on the ability of their workers to continuously generate new value. Winning organizations have awoken to this fact.

What does waking up mean?

At its core, it means a fundamental shift in how people are managed and led. The 4.0 World is all about leadership.

The current approach to managing people tends to focus almost exclusively on maximizing the productivity of individuals. This is Leadership 1.0 – steam age leadership. Steam age leaders view the whole as the sum of its parts.

In an Industry 4.0 World the view is quite different. 4.0 Leaders know that the whole can be much more than the sum of its parts. 4.0 Leaders still work at maximizing the performance of the individual, but they also focus on maximizing the performance of the team.  This means looking at recruiting leaders through a new lens i.e., in a 4.0 World, the skills and behaviors we are looking for in a leader have changed considerably.

Building an environment that facilitates the ongoing creation of new value means managing not only the individuals who make up a team but also the interaction space between these individuals. A lesson learned from the IT industry is that between any two individuals on a team there is a hidden creative force. When the interaction space between individuals is effectively managed this force emerges and the creative impact of the team is multiplied. In a 4.0 World, an organization’s ongoing prosperity now directly depends on its leaders’ ability to draw out this creative energy.

Building an organizational culture that facilitates the ongoing creation of new value is not rocket science. But it requires a fundamental change in perspective on the part of the organization’s managers, a change that will challenge current management practices, including how a manager’s performance is measured and evaluated.

To be successful in a 4.0 World, organizations will now need to evaluate their managers not only on the basis of what they have delivered, but also by the readiness of their teams to deliver in an unknown future.  Here’s the big insight… winning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not about speed.  It’s about non-stop strategic change which constantly advances the organization toward its stated goals.

So, what does an Industry 4.0 Leader look like?

Not only can 4.0 Leaders manage the space in between people while they build a high-performance culture – they never rest. They never allow the organization to crest.  They know success is not a sprint but a never-ending marathon.  In a 4.0 World change is ongoing.  The 4.0 Leader is constantly developing and strengthening the organization’s change muscle. The successful organization in a 4.0 World is like the Tortoise, constantly moving forward, never stopping, never resting.

Now, I’m going to give you an insight your competitors don’t have…

The goal in hiring isn’t to find the best talent looking for work, or at least it shouldn’t be. What it should be: finding the best talent period.  Today that means recruiting leaders who are comfortable in a 4.0 World.  And here in lies – the recruiting challenge.  The best leaders, the 4.0 Talent, already have jobs, good jobs. The key to recruiting successfully in a 4.0 World now means going after industry-leading talent that aren’t looking for new opportunities just yet

Hiring the Best is not about money – it never was.  Shocking but true, the Best will come to an organization not to make more money, but because of what the organization stands for and what it’s trying to achieve. Work is personal. The Best will want to understand the organizational culture that drives the way people interact and how things get done. To do this, you need a systematic approach to finding 4.0 Talent, engaging their interest, and assessing their alignment with your goals.

In the ‘Old West’, it was said there were two types of people – quick and dead. In today’s Industry 4.0 World, that same principle applies but instead we divide leaders and organizations into two distinct categories – quick or dying. The quick embrace new ways of capturing value while the dying hang on for dear life to old ways!

About the Authors

David Perry helps companies find and bring on-board Industry 4.0 leaders. His most recent book, Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream Team and Crush the Competition, shares the thinking it takes to land employees and generate wealth for the company. You can contact David at dperry@perrymartel.com www.perrymartel.com   Ron Wiens has spent the past 35 years helping organizations build high-performance cultures. His most recent book, Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound, is a leader’s guide to culture as competitive advantage. You can contact Ron at ron@ronwiens.com www.ronwiens.com  Ron and David’s new  book, Revolutions  Need  Leaders: How to Recognize, Recruit and Retain Leaders in an Industry 4.0 World, will be available in 2023.


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