Concern for people’s health and wellbeing will become an increasingly important leadership soft skill in the post pandemic digital world, a panel of experts agreed at a University of Exeter Business School (UEBS) event.
In the fourth of a series: Digital Transformation: A View from Beyond the Horizon, part of Digital Leaders Week, speakers from academia, business development, charities, and health and care management sectors, took a hard look back on the last 15 months, and concluded there were lots of reasons to be optimistic for the future.
AI may make some leadership activities redundant while enhancing others in the world of work, but emotional intelligence will become an increasingly essential leadership skill as people work at home and without face to face team interaction with colleagues.
Panel chair, Leroy White, Professor in Management Science Exeter Business School, said he had found the speed of digital and level of innovation since Covid “quite mindblowing”.
It had been a challenge taking on his new job during Covid when he was unable to interact with new colleagues face to face.
“This isn’t a temporary blip” Christine Ashton, CIO and Adviser Cogventive, commented.
She highlighted how dealing with trust in the digital era was going to be a big issue for leadership. How should leaders learn to trust colleagues and others when not having live interactions with them in the workplace. “How do we look out for one another?” she asked.
Greg Allen, CEO of Future Care Capital and Professor of Practice (Leadership) at UEBS, raised the issue of the need for more digital skills training by organisations, including home care and mental health.
But echoing the view of Lee Waters, Welsh government environment minister, who spoke at the launch of Digital Leaders Week, Allen said the key to success was “putting people at the centre of change.”
David Feavearyear, Vice President Indirect and Technology Procurement, Pearsons Group, suggested leaders will have to communicate and engage differently: create space in their calendars for more one-to-one engagement for example.
In time, this would create trust, enable people to be more authentic, and make it easier to challenge each other.
“The world has changed. We are in a great place to take advantage of the change we are going to see in the coming years” he concluded.