The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is all around us and technology is constantly transforming to keep up. We also need to keep up with this trend by changing the way we lead and manage people. The 4IR is expanding at an exponential rate rather than a linear rate, it is changing the way we work, interact, live, and relate to one another. This revolution will ultimately blend the physical, digital, and biological realms, affecting businesses and enterprises with the creation of a new breed of employee.

Knowledge workers are those people who are intricately involved with fields related to technology and the 4IR, they are creatives and specialists in their fields. They develop artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, chatbots, virtual and augmented reality, voice-activated assistants, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. Although machine learning and artificial intelligence will allow certain jobs to be automated, robots can never replace a human being. People in the workplace not only use their hands and heads, they complete tasks using their hearts.

Deseré Orrill, South African Design Thinker and Chairman of OLE!CONNECT, says “artificial intelligence and machine learning cannot replicate human creativity, sensitivity or sensibility, which are essential ingredients in all creative and caring professions, along with those where human intuition and the fabled ‘6th sense’ play a role”. Sentient robots will not become a part of the workforce any time soon, only the people working towards creating them.

By definition, knowledge workers operate on a global playing field and need to be managed with this in mind. To better manage these workers, it is important to know what company culture looks like in other countries, how other countries do business, and what their management styles are.

The World Economic Forum says that the following types of company leaders will come out tops in the 4IR.

Social Supers
These are the leaders who do well by doing good. They are the people who know when their teams are ready for change and then make sure they receive the correct and adequate training so that they are well prepared. Companies that have Social Supers in their workforce, are growing more than companies that haven’t found this balance yet.

Data-Driven Decisionmakers
These are the leaders who make measured decisions based on strategic and data-focused approaches. Their companies show great economic benefits from full immersion in 4IR technologies and opportunities.

Disruption Drivers
These leaders invest in disruptive innovations that they are confident will give them the upper hand among their competitors. These types of companies tend to have well-defined decision-making processes and they are generally ahead of the pack.

Talent Champions
They are the leaders who spot talent while preparing their people for digital transformation. They are also fully aware of their societal impact and are often responsible for new revenue streams for their companies.

Not only does a business need leadership that can see and pursue the bigger picture, but they also need people managers who understand the heart of the business, its staff members. Forbes says that the most successful people managers in the 4IR, have the following traits:

Collaboration
They meet with staff on various levels of the business to determine how they want and need to be managed, together creating a sense of shared values. Broader collaboration is more important than the individual, financial benefit.

Encouragement
Generally, people working in the fields of technology associated with the 4IR, are highly motivated and don’t need a manager to tell them what to do. They need a management team that is supportive and encourages them to reach their goals.

Listening
To develop a joint strategy, leaders need to assume the servant leadership method, which makes use of open-mindedness, humility, empathy, trust, and it requires listening.

Partnership
Great leaders work alongside their people, they have integrity, they are straightforward, they inspire but don’t control, they delegate and give people the freedom to make choices to grow.

The 4IR will change the way we work and how we relate to the world, but the thinking and feeling jobs will always be left to humans. Level-up your management career and skills by completing a management qualification through Wits, fully online. Click here to see what your options are and to begin your online learning journey.