How to lead in a modern workplace

Written by
Sarah Clark

20 Jun 2016

20 Jun 2016 • by Sarah Clark

Embrace disruptive technology

Technology is changing business, organisations and jobs. Leaders must grasp the changes and respond now. Even if you’ve been doing your job for 100 years, it doesn’t entitle you to be around for another 100. Adaptive leaders will survive the modern world of work.

Create a culture that is good for people

Stress is increasing and wellbeing is under the spotlight like never before. It’s time for leaders to show greater humanity, purpose and meaning. Technology is wiping out people’s jobs and if we render humans mere cogs within the machine, we’ve failed. We need to create opportunities for people. Are you making the best use of their skills, capabilities and talent? These drivers should be central to your HR agenda.

Show people what progression looks like

Our recent research found that 60% of people don’t know what progression looks like within their roles and organisations. If talented people don’t have a sense of their career development, how do you expect them to remain engaged and grow? Share the organisation’s vision, show them a career path.

Prepare for a more diverse world

We’re seeing the rise of the ‘gig economy’ and need to start offering people a variety of ways of working. Recent jobs growth has been in micro-businesses, self-employment and very small enterprises. We’re hearing people talking about “the Uber-isation of work”. Ask yourself, what do these models look like? We’re talking about a ‘life of jobs’ not a ‘job for life’. Perspectives on ‘contractual’ and ‘long-term employment’ are different now.

Move away from generic best practice

Rethink what you do and understand the purpose of every role in your organisation. The genuinely innovative, adaptive, agile businesses are returning to core principles. What is the purpose of performance management? How do we re-engineer our recruitment practices to appeal to a more diverse pool of talent? Get everyone involved in shaping your future, moving away from a generic concept of best practice. At the CIPD, we’ve got rid of some rules and started to trust more.


Rethink your organisation’s purpose, capability and context. Expertise for the future will involve the ability to partner, network, gain different insights and prepare for change. The more diversity and experience you bring in, the better chance you have of discovering new ways of working.

Design the future

In the words of legendary management consultant Peter Drucker: “The easiest way to predict the future is to help create it.” The future is exciting; we’ve identified the megatrends in today’s world of work and how we can take these forward. Ultimately, it’s always about people. We must go back to basics, create a wider sense of purpose and humility, and encourage collaboration. We must build a community where it’s natural to share success stories and innovations. Our mission now is to educate leaders on how the world of work is changing, how the next generation perceives work, and what they want from it, and what new business models look like.

Create purpose

Gone are the days when we looked to one leader, who knew everything. The best modern leaders are those who create a sense of passion, vision and purpose – attracting people to engage, follow and connect with them.

The key leadership skills of the future

  • 01 Adaptability: Get ready to identify change and how to respond to it.
  • 02 Agility: Show everyone that you’re prepared for the challenge. 
  • 03 Humility: It’s no longer about the ‘I’, it’s about how ‘we’ do this.
  • 04 Passion: Radiate passion, engage and connect with your people. 
  • 05 Vision: Involve everyone in the overall vision and share success stories. 
  • 06 Ability to connect: Communicate and network effectively.

"We’re seeing the  rise of the ‘gig economy’" – Peter Cheese