The Fourth Industrial Revolution began in 2000 and is characterized by the idea of artificial intelligence and widespread use of the internet. Some do not agree that this revolution is separate from the 3rd but many would argue that it has all the qualities of a separate occasion. Although true artificial intelligence has not been created, versions that do many of the same tasks has been invented such as Siri in iPhones. The future of the fourth industrial revolution will include:
- More interactive technology
- Absolute customization of products (think 3D printing on a more commercial level)
- Smart factories
- Integration of technology across psychical, digital, and biological domains
What will this mean for public sector leadership?
Change in technology
The speed of innovation has never been more acute than in this time. Drastic changes in technology have occurred in the past century than few could have ever dreamed possible. From areas in medicine to space technology, the nature of our world has changed and with it, the way people view their environment.
How has this sudden growth in technology changed the nature of leadership? Leaders now must become accustomed to sudden changes in technology that change the nature of their work or even render it obsolete. To be a leader in this new environment, is to accept that it is dynamic. To be a successful leader, is to use these changes and as opportunity to adapt the essence of one’s work.
In government, the changes are even more apparent. Usually a government would be the last group to utilize a new type of technology. However, because technology changes drastically each day, there is a necessity for government entities to be up to date to best serve their community. Especially, with technology such as national defense systems that require constant security and knowledge of possible means of attacks. In general, a government must stay relevant to its citizens. This requires them to employ every means of technology available to best provide for the citizens. A successful leader can recognize new techniques and technology that will serve citizens best and be prepared to reform the government to do so.
Current State of Leadership Compared to the Past
Leaders now must deal with an increasing complex workload. As such, three essential steps have been developed to create the perfect working environment for utilizing the changing technology.
Leaders must cultivate trust and inclusion among team members to become a breeding ground for new and exciting ideas. Covered in previous modules, this involves making sure your team members see you as the lynchpin of the team but are also able to come to you with questions and ideas. Without an engaging leader, it will be impossible for team members to proceed to the next steps.
A leader should shape their team so that each member is adept at navigating challenging situations. Team members must become proactive to potential problems and skilled at finding solutions for them. One practice to utilize is by creating a theoretical problem and asking team members to solve it in several ways. Finding multiple solutions to a problem can help them look at a problem from all angles. Without this skill, teams will be unequipped to handle new technologies as they won’t be able to incorporate them into their existing framework.
Lastly, a team must not be focused simply on completing a task but creating something. This frame of mind will lead team members to see their goal not as a boring necessity but an opportunity to change or create something new. The expectations of consumers must be heard and met with new and creative ideas. Especially in the public sector, where resources are limited.
The new leadership career
The switch from scalable production to scalable learning has made many people redefine their life’s goals. It is common to ask children what they would like to do when they grow up. Now, many do not need to choose a single profession they belong to as they can change and grow as their education progresses. In leadership, this change can be useful to leaders, as workers can be more fluid in their roles, conforming to the needs of the team. Workers are consistently making efforts to stay knowledgeable which will make it easier for leaders to develop a strong team.
In the past leaders were thought of as heads of a very hierarchical system in which their role was to command others to do tasks. Now, leaders are focused on nurturing creativity among team members and ensuring they become strong leaders themselves. By doing this, they will foster a work environment in which solutions are collaborated on by the entire team. In doing so, the strict chain of command has loosened.
A leader must also take an entrepreneurial role in an organization regardless of whether it is in the private sector or if it is in the public sector. They must be able to recognize risks worth taking for the organization to move forward. This aspect that is primarily in private sector enterprises has the capacity to help public sector groups innovate and transform.