Guest article: Future-proofing Ireland’s workforce

Business | Fri 3 May | Author – Business & Finance

Talent acquisition remains key for business success – in full employment what’s a leader to do?

A global drought is taking place, but it doesn’t involve water shortages or hosepipe bans. Instead, companies worldwide are seeking new talent pools, and fast.

By 2030, this quest for talent will have driven up wage bills, resulting in staggering losses of $8.5 trillion, and a wage rise of $2.5 trillion.

Ireland is no exception. As the government issues warnings that as many as 12,000 ICT jobs could go unfilled, unemployment sits at 5.4%, one of the lowest figures since the financial crash just a decade ago.

To stay ahead of the competition, and on top of the market, Irish businesses need to act now. Without future-proof captains at the helm, an organisation will not be able to steer their ship effectively through this talent storm. The pursuit of the ‘self-disrupted’ has begun.

What is a Self-Disruptor?

Korn Ferry’s latest study has revealed that only 15% of today’s leaders can be considered ‘self-disruptors’, a worrying trend. But what exactly is a self-disruptor?

Built on a unique form of resilience and self-reliance, the self-disruptive leader is an individual with great self-awareness; someone with the capacity to adapt or ‘self-disrupt’ at any moment, alongside a rapidly changing environment.

To ensure leaders succeed in the future of work, they must be able to ADAPT; anticipate threats and future trends, drive the organisation, accelerate innovation and change, partner across organisation boundaries, and build trust between individuals and the wider business.

In the past, leaders focused on the needs of their organisation, and what this enterprise needed from them. While this is still critical, taking an individual approach to identifying and investing in leaders is now the way forward.

If an individual is truly aware of themselves, what drives both their conscious and unconscious behaviour, and what takes their energy, these leaders have the potential to build up resilience to the elements, and have the knowledge, experience and capacity to adapt with change and self-disrupt.

Why Does Your Business Need a Self-Disruptor?

  • Change in Thought

Organisational leadership and thoughts on this concept are experiencing a change in orientation. Traditional focus was very much placed on enabling leaders to tackle the complex and unpredictable environment in which businesses often find themselves and identifying leaders from their past performance and experiences.

While this is still true, the key is to identify leaders who are self-reliant and resilient, ready at all times to adapt to volatile environmental change, not just the complexities of leading a business.

66% of today’s investors globally report that they now value future vision and orientation over past performance, due to the constant technological shakeups, and the unpredictable nature of competition; businesses now need self-disruptive leaders to survive financially and guarantee future investment.

  • New Challenges

Globally, companies face a multitude of challenges in an age of rapid technological change and scientific discovery. As black holes are pictured for the first time and automated technology becomes the norm rather than the exception, an organisation needs a leader which can adapt to this change and leverage the marketplace opportunities available.

Our latest study highlights the growing financial need to attract the self-disrupted. Globally, 67% of investors believe the current leadership stock is not fit for the future.

To keep up with the pace of this transformation, your business needs require a self-disruptor with the resilience and capacity to steer your business in the right direction.

  • Cognitive Diversity

A leader which can rapidly breathe new life into your organisation, foster innovation and breed new ideas, large or small, will help it to remain marketplace competitive.

While a diverse team of differing beliefs and thoughts can be difficult to manage, the self-disruptor will ensure that this diversity is built upon, and effective consensus of new ideas created.

  • Broader Picture

Your business also needs the benefits of a self-disruptor within leadership, to have the ability to seek out the broader picture and plan accordingly.

In today’s output and KPI-driven environments, leaders can get stuck in the doing, failing to seek out and plan for the strategic context. Seven in 10 investors said that pressure for short-term performance works against leaders’ ability to deliver innovation, digitization and change.

With the right amount of influence over the organisation, a self-disruptive leader can acquire the space to think strategically, seek the broader context and steer the business to adapt accordingly.

How Can Self-Disruptors Be Identified?

So, how can you separate those who are able versus those who need development? Look first at the individual; how do they match your organisation’s strategic needs? Have they the ability to drive the level of change needed?

It is crucial to consider the parts of the organisation that you want to develop. When identifying future self-disruptors, it shouldn’t be an assessment of just anyone in or outside the organisation. It should always be about assessing people and the parts that have most impact on the strategy of the business – this is what you will need to be focus on if your business is to transform and futureproof itself.

Diagnostic tools can be utilised to take a deep-dive into the element of an individual’s leadership ability. At Korn Ferry, an agile leadership process of working takes place. Assessing what an individual intends to do in a given situation, and what actually comes across can separate their conscious and intuitive leadership capacities. This separation could make or break results for your business; making the right decision is key.

Organisations need to go above and beyond existing talent pools, to attract quality cognitive diversity, but to gain the best skills available in the current talent blight. Mid-level management could be the answer. Potential self-disruptors could be garnered from existing teams, particular those departments which could have the most strategic impact. Identifying, feeding and investing in existing staff who hold the potential to be the next cohort of leaders for your business can ensure you utilise the best talent that you already have, and demonstrate care for the individual and their career path.

The leaders of today should actively seek out these “self-disruptors”, hold out a hand and invest in their skills, and the future of their representative organisations. This will avoid stifling of talent, and loss of these skills to a competitor.

In-house development will be crucial to meet skill shortfalls and ensure the future leaders of Irish businesses are “self-disruptors”. By cultivating current “self-disruptive” potential, Irish companies can future-proof themselves.

Tom Walsh leads the advisory practice as an Associate Client Partner at Korn Ferry Ireland, helping organisations across Ireland, EMEA and the US to improve their performance and leadership.