Teams in the Fourth Industrial Revolution no longer need a manager or leader to organise them. The era of self-organised teams has been ushered in, and with it, the need for core leadership functions to change in order to remain relevant.

The world of work has changed and leaders must rise to the occasion to provide the leadership required to stay in step with the change, and in fact, drive it.

While technology may be advancing at a steady pace, replicating and even replacing human functions, there are elements of humanity that cannot be mimicked by technology.

And it is here that leaders must pivot and harness their humanity and the humanity of their teams, in order to achieve organisational and individual success.

We believe there are four core leadership functions required to adjust and even flourish as an effective Industry 4.0 leader, despite the ever changing organisational landscape.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Workplace Shifts

The shifting human landscape that is emerging in the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with it a dampened need for technical expertise, and an ever-increasing need for the social, emotional, and cultural aspects of what humans can contribute in the work environment, outside of their practical contributions.

This shifting landscape also necessitates a change in what is required in terms of the contribution of leaders. What leadership can add to the work environment in response to these needs has therefore become a critical consideration for Industry 4.0 leaders.

Gone are the days of planning, organising, leading, and controlling being the four cornerstones of management and leadership.

While these elements of leadership are still relevant to the success of the business, they are now primarily driven by technology. Through software platforms like ClickUp, Jira etc. planning, organising and controlling projects is taken care of, while agile methodologies like Scrum, make the measurability of a workforce’s operations easier, even at scale.

As a result, output has become the key form of measurement when it comes to employee performance, where in the past, it was working hours that was the main indicator.

The role of leaders must transform along with these shifts in the industry. Leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will need to unleash the very parts of humans that robots and technological advancements can’t replicate or replace.

4 Core Leadership Functions


In the first place, leaders need to have the ability to unite people. People want to be part of a community, they want to be part of something greater than themselves; with people with whom they have a measure of relationship and with whom they are contributing to a common end. The leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be those who can unite a diverse global workforce by creating a sense of community around shared vision and values. Click To Tweet


Secondly, Industry 4.0 leaders must be able to unleash the potential in the individuals in their team. We’ve seen for a long time, through organisations like Google, and now more recently SpaceX, that we need to learn to fail fast.

We’ve come to embrace the notion that failure is a critical component in creating an environment where innovation is valued.

High performing leaders will help unleash the spirit of innovation in each individual by helping them realize that failure is okay and that, in fact, innovation only happens in conjunction with failure.

They will lead with a deep knowing that, psychologically, failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. Instead, it proves that you are actually approaching your work creatively. This is the kind of mindset that will unleash innovative thinking in the workplace.


The third critical function for leaders in Industry 4.0 is that they need to understand people.

Understanding people involves being aware of the things that motivate them and the way emotion impacts their world. Along with this, understanding people must be accompanied by the ability to create a culture of safety.

In creating these safe, understanding cultural environments, the humanity of people is able to flourish.

With this capability in hand, leaders, through the understanding of how people work, will no longer resort to any version of the command-and-control leadership style of the bygone era, or some kind of authoritarian my-way-or-the-highway approach that clearly no longer works.

Instead, effective leaders of Industry 4.0 will be those that understand people to such a degree that they are able to create cultures where individuals and teams are enabled to flourish.


The fourth vital function leaders should possess is the ability to usher people into innovative thinking rather than simply being expected to be fearlessly innovative.

Contrary to popular belief it’s not for lack of IQ or lack of ideas that innovation is wanting. It’s that people often feel restricted in a work environment, causing them to hold back on contributing to innovation in the organisation.

Their ideas are often not given wings or support, and those who have the power to allow the ideas to affect the organisation are often not providing their support and agreement, thereby stifling the flow of new ideas.

Successful leaders of Industry 4.0 are those who usher people into innovative thinking, by being unthreatened by innovative ideas coming from somewhere other than themselves.

Leadership Response to Industry 4.0

It is evident that Industry 4.0 is heralding a new world. This is no surprise to anyone. But high performing leaders, if they are to stay relevant, will need to respond by ushering in a new set of functions that will allow them to ignite the very parts of the workforce that will continually add value, the parts of the workforce that are human and cannot be replaced or replicated by technology.

Outstanding Industry 4.0 leaders will find ways to foster unity in globally diverse teams, embrace failure and facilitate growth through failing fast. They will continually grow in their understanding of people, create a safe environment for people to flourish, and walk alongside people, supporting their attempts at growth and innovation.

Technological developments will continue to shift the way we work, but if leaders cultivate the parts of their, and their team’s, humanity that cannot be replaced by robots, our Emotional Intelligence, they will continue to add tremendous value to their workplaces.

Mygrow can help you develop these critical leadership skills through our personal development platform. With an emphasis on developing Emotional Intelligence through micro-learning, our e-learning platform will equip you and your team to be more effective in the ever-changing global work environment.


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