Speaking at the Media360 summit in Hong Kong on 25 February 2016, Lindsay Pattison, global CEO, Maxus, noted that we are now in the “fourth industrial revolution”, with technology promising to “transform the way we work and relate to each other”.
While the situation can be seen as very exciting, she said it has also created a "crisis of leadership". She cited statistics raised at the World Economic Forum that showed 86 percent of employees globally have no faith in leadership. The figure is lower in Asia—73 percent—but a wake up call nonetheless.
Pattison added that a Maxus survey at the end of 2015 among C-suite leaders found that while 91 percent think technology is responsible for the biggest impact on their industry—but just 20 percent feel ready to cope with that impact.
While learning to live with technology is critical, Pattison suggested it’s equally important to develop more “human” leadership skills to balance out its influence. The younger workforce, which of course constitutes the leaders of the future, want companies to prioritise "social justice and wellbeing over financial growth", for example.
“Generation Y have high and different expectations of leaders,” she said. “Having the title of CEO is not enough. They expect collaborative decision makers…who express views in a way that’s easy to understand.”
Other key attributes she listed were flexibility and ability to interact with staff at all levels, on a personal level. “Ask why anyone would be led by you,” she said. “Leaders have a good reason to be scared. You can’t do anything without followers, and they can be hard to find in these empowered times.”
At the same time, more needs to be done to empower leaders—or rather, to encourage people to become “gender blind”. Pattison listed common questions and assumptions that cause irritation as a female leader: being seen as bossy rather than the boss; difficulty in juggling work and family life. Generation Y will not tolerate such prejudice, she said.
“Women walk a tightrope between being liked and being competent,” she said. “There’s an unconscious bias in organisations. People talk a good game but few are putting it into practice.”
Projects by Maxus to address the “gender gap”, she said, do not aim to create an “undue advantage for women”, but level the playing field. “Today’s leaders need both masculine and feminine attributes,” she said. “Leadership is generational, not based on gender.”
(This article first appeared on CampaignAsia.com)