Anton Colella: Leadership 4.0

Anton Colella
Anton Colella By Anton Colella, ICAS CEO

1 March 2017

Anton Colella, ICAS CEO, asks whether a new type of City leader is required to meet the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Leadership evolves. Like everything else.

Maybe we are at a moment where leadership itself needs to transform.

Is the C-suite of the City today fit to meet the perfect storm of change and opportunity which will blow through the business world of tomorrow?

The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is a phrase coined by Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, to capture the dramatic scale of technological change and its impact on society.

But there’s more than that...

There are three great forces colliding.

First, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings automation, robotics, big data, artificial intelligence, FinTech and digital together in the most dramatic change to human kind since the steam engine.

Second, the millennial generation brings a completely different set of attitudes, values and behaviour to the workplace. That mindset is characterised as putting people and the planet before profit with trust in big business being universally eroded.

Third, geopolitical change threatens to throw the world of global trade upside down, with the very concept of globalisation now being called into question by those who elect our political leaders and consume our products and services.

As you’re considering making your next senior hire or applying for your next big job, think on this – what does a fourth generation leader look like?

Add to that the collapse of public trust in leadership, epitomised by the Edelman Trust Barometer which suggests that the majority of the public do not believe CEOs are credible anymore.

Then introduce Generation C which is about to become the most powerful tribe on the planet. They are not defined by age but defined by attitude. 

They inhabit a world of videos, memes, mash ups and social media networks. They’re the workforce and they are our customers. They eat, sleep and breathe the Internet. Ninety-one per cent of Generation C sleep next to their smartphone.

So, in that context, as you’re considering making your next senior hire or applying for your next big job, think about what a fourth generation leader looks like.

Consider the skills and experience they need to understand the opportunities of the world of driverless cars, drones, and call centres which answer millions of enquiries without the involvement of a human being.

What skills and mindset do they need to inspire, motivate and retain Generation C as valued employees?

How would they adapt their strategy to a world where consumers and employees put their loyalty first to businesses which put social responsibility ahead of profit?

What skills, mindsets and behaviours will differentiate the leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution from the leaders of today?

How would they interact with a political society which is ripping up the script on trade and favouring industrial intervention?

While we may not be able to answers all these questions yet, one thing we will always know is that the ethical leadership, integrity and wisdom is absolutely critical in helping steer a business.

Then confront another challenge.

The average age of a non-executive director in the FTSE 250 is nearly 60. How equipped are those who sit in the boardrooms of the City to understand the challenges of this alien new world?

In this new world, the core skills of financial leadership will endure in the C-suite and among the most valued non-executives – astute financial analysis, professional scepticism, judgement and ethical values.

But the question I am pondering is what revolution is required to give our fourth generation City leaders what else it takes to surf the tsunami of change about to hit us?

Using the mindset of the past to solve the problems of the future will not succeed.


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