Future of Knowledge Work - 7 Leadership Skills of Tomorrow

by Fred Mouawad / March 16, 2016

We all know that knowledge is power. It stands to reason then, that becoming a knowledge worker will be the ideal vocation of the future.

Perhaps the easiest way to define knowledge workers is ‘people who think for a living’. Their main capital and primary resource is knowledge. There are around 800 million knowledge workers around the world today. This number is expected to reach 1 billion by 2017.

There are several shifting factors that contribute to this onslaught of young and talented individuals wanting to join the ranks of knowledge workers.


In a world where 2.9 billion people are online, 1.75 billion smart phones are in operation and there are 1.2 million apps available for download, knowledge is king. And if knowledge is king, technology is definitely the queen. The place of technology in the future will only be strengthened as an ‘internet of things’ slowly comes into existence. There are already Nest thermostats from Google in Mountain View that can learn and automatically adjust how warm or cool their owners based on their preference. There are cars that can communicate their drivers’ driving habits to insurance companies and sensors on forks that can tell you if you are eating too fast. The world will become more software driven and artificial intelligence and robotics will become part of everyday life.

Deeper Expertise

Since information and knowledge will be pervasive through technology; professionals with deeper expertise in verticals will become highly sought after. On-demand hiring will become the norm and more organizations will turn to online project management platforms like Taskworld to manage projects. It will become increasingly important to get the right person for the right project.

Disappearing Distances

The ability to collaborate with someone on the other side of the world has revolutionized the way business is done. Virtual meetings have become widespread, and it is no longer necessary to be physically present in order to feel connected. As a result of this, when individuals do meet in person, the bonding that results is much more deep and meaningful.

Humans and Machines

Machines in today’s world not only analyze huge amounts of data but also make recommendations. Businesses will also be able to use machines the way doctors use MRIs to give patients their prognosis. This will mean that human experience and judgment will be even more important when making final decisions.

Inner Meaning

The traditional idea of committing to working for the same company till retirement is no longer the norm. The quest is now to find inner meaning, purpose and happiness. It has become a dominant factor that drives people to follow their paths with more motivation. Maximizing happiness has become the ultimate goal in life.

With the changes that are taking place in the workplace, leaders will have to develop a wider skill set that allows them to manage teams in the future. These are some of the leadership skills of tomorrow -

    1.  Building a Mission

Leaders must believe in their idea and try to make a positive impact on the world. By setting a mission that is clarified by asking the right questions and considering the value of time. Life is short, and people want to understand the meaning of their work and its place in the organization’s scheme of things, giving them control over their destiny.

    2.  Positioning

With the advancement of technology, the consumer base available to businesses has expanded. This means that that there are more customers to serve and more people who can serve them. The positioning of your product then becomes an important consideration in trying to drive sustainable growth. Serving your customers well then becomes the only way to beat the competition. Entrepreneurs must blend art and science to constantly evaluate the current situation, while keeping an eye on the future.

    3.  Freedom within a Framework

An organizational culture that provides creative freedom within a defined framework has to be carefully constructed to ensure your resources are channeled towards a valuable solution. It also becomes important to find the right set of people who can thrive in your business environment. If the right balance is achieved, you get an environment where people can exercise their talents to the fullest, but within the boundaries that you provide to them.

    4.  Storytelling

Persuasion is a key business skill. But it is also a question of who is trying to persuade us. We easily believe what our friends say but find it more difficult to place our trust in companies or large corporations. In a saturated market place, being able to tell a compelling story that is conveyed in a way that forces people to take action can be a real asset. It can be a distinguishing factor that makes you stand out from competitors with similar products and services.

    5.  Connecting the Dots

It’s a good idea to be hyper aware of everything that goes on in and around your business. Whether it be related to your specific industry or not, being able to find alignment between the internal organization and external market place will be extremely important as you might find strategies and ideas that apply your market place.

    6.  People Fit

The way a person works within an organization is an important consideration and should receive a lot of attention from managers. Having the right person in the right role can be the difference between a mediocre team and a great team. It is important to come up with ways that measure how well a person is functioning in a given role. By collecting data and having discussions about individuals to maximize fit, it is much easier to facilitate collaboration across the entire organization.

    7.  Ability to Adapt

Survival of the fittest is as much a rule of leadership as it is a rule of nature. In an ever-shifting business landscape adaptability becomes a critical skill. Being able to foresee trends and innovate ahead of a change allows those who might not be the strongest, but have the will to change quickly to better compete.

It is important for future leaders to develop these skills but once they are comfortable with them, it is also important to find a balance that works best for your particular product or service. It is important to realize that each of these factors will be constantly changing and that the point of balance will continuously evolve. Leaders must constantly think, learn and adjust. Leadership is a choice. Being a great leader starts with dreaming the future. Without dreaming, there is no motivation to move forwards and take on the role of a leader. There are of course those who simply love their fit in an organization and find contentment in a given role as a follower.

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