The world of the future is artificial intelligence, smart(er), connected devices—and many things that will feel like science fiction meets reality.

The things that your employees or clients require tomorrow will be radically different. For example, did you know this?

“80% of US CEOs think that AI will change the way they do business in the next 5 years

(22nd Annual CEO Survey 2019, PwC).

Communication is already starting to move online and will continue to expand (Example: Slack, WhatsApp, Skype, etc).

Multiple generations exist in the workplace with differing beliefs and habits.

Having appropriate security measures will continue to raise privacy and other questions.

Work habits which have already begun to evolve will continue to shift: “a study released by Zug, Switzerland- based serviced office provider IWG found that 70 percent of professionals work remotely…at least one day a week, while 53 percent work remotely for at least half of the week”(Browne 2018).

There is a high probability that leaders are not prepared for the changes that technology will force into their work and home environments.

Take for example how leaders today are dealing with the impacts of wide-scale connectivity which has evolved over the last 20 years; while most impacts have been hugely positive, the downside that was not predicted has been the high levels of distraction, unfocused attention, stress, and feelings of anxiety. This in turn has affected level of happiness, well-being, productivity, motivation and so much more.

According to a new Korn Ferry study of professionals completed in October 2018  ‘nearly two-thirds of professionals say their stress levels at work are higher than they were five years ago.’ Dennis Baltzley, a Korn Ferry senior partner says ‘organizations can take steps to help reduce stress, such as offering training on new technologies and development for managers on how best to lead.

In the past, providing attractive perks or prized projects were most important; to thrive, tomorrow’s teams will require more–authentic relationships, meaningful work and flexibility to live and work as they choose.

And emerging neuroscience is fast changing the basis for how leaders should make decisions.

You probably already know how neuroscience has provided evidence that humans are not wired to be calm all the time; the fight or flight response in your brain exists for a good reason. It exists to protect you from threats and it does not distinguish between a real threat (bear attacking) or a perceived threat (disagreement with a peer). And so, if you are not deliberate in how you monitor and regulate your thoughts and emotions, you cannot regulate this natural defense mechanism, to respond with less anxiety or frustration—and in a more thoughtful, and relevant way instead. Make sense?

The changes in technology are rapidly moving into a realm that will require more deliberate actions—feeling isolated or feeling displaced in this new world otherwise will be just a couple of issues in the workplace.

This demands that leaders uplevel their skills today.

  • Leaders will need a deeper capacity to empathize with the changing expectations and needs of employees, clients and partners alike.
  • Leaders will need stronger self-perception skills to make decisions in greater contexts of uncertainty, isolation and ambiguity.
  • Leaders will need to move beyond standard, traditional responses to the brand-new challenges of tomorrow.

Leaders should know that one of their biggest assets in the next century to elevate their skills will be to leverage their own internal experiences. Why not? It’s already yours for free!

You can effectively train for this with a suite of mental practices. Mindfulness mediation is one way. In a Washington Post interview (Schulte 2015), neuroscientist Sara Lazar shared specific changes in the brains of a research study group after 8 weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction; these results indicated reduced mind-wandering, increased empathy and compassion and reduced anxiety, fear and stress.

In other words, to be ready for “Beam me up, Scotty”, turn inward first for all the leadership qualities you will need: calm, certainty, connection, confidence, courage, clarity, creativity, concentration and compassion.