Leadership: Adapting to Today’s Harsh Realities

The world in which we live is going through fundamental shifts – simultaneous changes that are literally turning everything, as we know it, on its head. Leaders of today and tomorrow are challenged with addressing these aspects to drive the business forward.

From the influence of technology, to a struggling world economy veiled in high unemployment, protectionism and a depleting middle class, most of us are at odds with these concurrent shifts in events that are disrupting our livelihoods and expectations of career paths.

We must overcome our fear of fundamental shifts and learn how to adapt to the new reality. One could not have fathomed the news of robots and computers displacing highly skilled workers in the near term. But that is today’s harsh reality.

Large corporations simply are not ready. While consumer behavior and expectations continue to evolve, the businesses have not kept pace. Companies have experienced a deterioration of control, despite knowing the eventual need for upheaving the precious infrastructure of the organization.

In the next decade, leadership will take many sharp turns in the journey.  These current trends will challenge organizational leadership.

  • Globalization has opened the borders and has given rise to emerging markets with an evolving middle class. Pressure from global competition is quickly elevating more nimble companies to the forefront while those within the Fortune 500, mired in traditional practices and legacy structures are falling to the wayside: Blockbuster, Borders, Eastman Kodak, among others. More companies are or will be integrating automation capabilities to streamline process, improve productivity and increase speed and accuracy in communication within the organization and to all customer touch points.

For leaders, the need to adapt to market speed will be tantamount to managing the real-time complexities of the market pulse, customer tendencies, competitive pressures and brand position.

  • The Rise of the Millennials gives credence to a generation who has, by far, experienced a mercurial existence compared to their older counterparts. With their natural affinity to tech adoption, plus their unpredictable job prospects, this future generation of leaders will influence the way corporations function, how the workplace is governed and how business practices are developed.

Tomorrow’s leaders will shake the foundation of today’s business with a zeal to drive significant revision in response to the expectation of continuous market disorder. The complacency, which is common among many of today’s leaders, will cease to exist.

  • Data will be more pervasive than ever and artificial intelligence and machine learning science will be interwoven into all areas of the organization to capture meaningful insights that will improve decision-making capabilities.

Leadership will be challenged when they are confronted with the opportunity to share their datasets with partners, vendors and even competitors to create an open source environment that will yield an improved contextual understanding of markets and customers, but will also allow for a much different market dynamic.

  • The Gig Economy will become more pronounced as companies begin to flatten their structures to make way for increased efficiency across the organization. And while many of these processes will be automated, the demand for acute skills across many verticals will create a more defined need for specific outputs on a task basis or as Google terms, “work-for-hire as the new normal”.

For leaders, they will be tasked with creating a black book of contingency or flexible workers but will be challenged to retain top talent under these conditions.

  • Growing Economic Uncertainty will also expose a workforce population caught in the grips of technological change, and are left unprepared to evolve with the demands of the time. The groundswell towards Universal Basic Income will make it necessary to give a boost to an economy in uncertain times. On the other end of the spectrum, the impetus of technology which gives strength to efficiencies, will make many things more affordable, which should help keep the economic wheel turning.

This is, by far, a significant hurdle that will consume business as they battle the elements that will attempt to hinder performance.

I have hesitated to mention Climate Change, This, in itself, will have its catastrophic impacts in the next 30 years. Government, research and corporate investments will prioritize spending to mitigate its effects but as we’ve seen thus far, unless various governments are willing to recognize its eventual impacts, let alone its existence, the efforts of the changing business landscape becomes a moot point.  

Leadership in the coming decade will be unlike what we’ve witnessed in the last 30 years. The simultaneous shifts in economy, technology, consumption, employment, environment and politics necessitate a mindset that not only seeks to sustain organizations, but also push for a fervent, more social-conscious mentality.


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Improving the Video Interview Process for Better Candidate Experiences

As more companies embrace a globalized workforce, many are seeing video interviewing as a cost-effective and convenient part of the recruitment process. It makes sense. Instead of only pursuing candidates who can physically come into an office, you can use video to reach out to a wider range of applicants early in the process. In fact, the TalentBoard found that, of the 130,000 candidates surveyed overall, more than 25,000 made it to the interview screening stage and 12.9 percent were interviewed at least in part via video (recorded and/or live).

And, unlike a phone interview, video interviews allow interviewers to see nonverbal gestures and gauge responses that may indicate attitude and a level of interest. So, while video cannot replace face-to-face meetings, they do provide a more personal experience than written or verbal-only communications.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) hires around 11,000 new employees from colleges every year. The company uses video interviews for both entry level and experienced applicants. Video interviewing provides candidates with more flexibility and offers a better experience than phone interviews. When candidates finally come into the office, PwC can use that time to sell the culture and fit of the firm rather than engaging in traditional interview processes.

The problem is, video interviews can also create false perceptions of both interviewers and candidates. But if you focus on preparation, you can improve the outcomes for the video interview process. What do I mean by this? Consider these two best practices for creating an accurate and well-received candidate experience during video-based exchanges.

  1. Invest in Technology for an Optimal Interview Experience
    During the interview process, technology hiccups can leave both parties feeling unsure about the interview. Now, many video conferencing tools provide increased flexibility for the interview process. If needed, applicants can use a smartphone or tablet to engage in a video interview. Skype, FaceTime, and corporate applications all provide alternatives that companies of all sizes can use. One engineering and construction firm, Henkels and McCoy, uses InterviewStream, an innovative tool that allows applicants to respond to pre-recorded interview questions. Candidates can complete the interview at any point to provide recruiters with the information needed to make an informed hiring decision.
  2. Prepare Candidates and Interviewers for the Interview
    Not all applicants have an understanding of the video interview process or format, and providing additional information can put both parties at ease. Consider offering candidates a pre-recorded video that outlines how your company conducts interviews. You may also want to ask candidates for any particular questions they have about the interview process. You can more easily evaluate the success of an interview if the candidate understands and is prepared for the session.

Since interviewers control the interview process, they can use video-specific tactics to create a better experience for both parties. Interviewers can create a positive video interview experience by:

  • Introducing open-ended questions – Open-ended questionsencourage the candidate to speak up about his or her background and experiences. Closed questioning can result in a simple question and answer session that does not provide human resources with the information needed to vet the candidate properly. Ask non-invasive questions that most candidates will willingly respond to.
  • Starting with a prepared opening – Whether pre-recorded or personalized for the interview, consider talking about the team and the company first. Greet your candidate and take some time to explain your business and what you’re looking for in a candidate. This approach does two things: It gives your prospective employee time to adjust to the setting and provides some context for questioning. Most people do some initial research on the organization, so stick to information that a candidate may not have come across.
  • Including job-specific team members in the process – Think about handing over candidates from recruiting to the internal team at different points in the hiring process. Consider bringing in someone a candidate might work with during the video interview.
  • Creating a dialogue, not an interrogation – Encourage your candidates to start a back and forth conversation with a mixture of easy and difficult questions. However, video interviews are designed for efficiency. Avoid irrelevant questions. Try not to ask about information a candidate has already provided in a resume or portfolio. Use the interview time to learn more about fit, experience, skills and leadership experience.

Video interviews can enhance the recruiting process but creating an optimal experience for the candidate and interviewer can be a challenge. Focus on making each interaction personal and relationship-driven to achieve a better experience for both the company and the candidate.

A version of this post was first published on Huffingtonpost on 04/26/2016. 

Photo Credit: epsfamily via Compfight cc

Want A Successful Work Life? More Cowbell!

Did you know that the More Cowbell sketch from Saturday Night Live is actually a powerful metaphor for a successful work life? Plus, it provides insight into the kind of people you need on your team, and what makes an effective team.

Everyone has at least one cowbell — it’s your unique, profitable talent people pay you for or your company’s unique offering. It’s something people have a fever for. When you discover it and give those people a ton of it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others. It’s a win-win.

A cowbell is simultaneously something you love doing and something other people really want as well. A cowbell creates joy for you and other people. It makes them yell for more. They can’t get enough.

Identifying Your Cowbell

America has changed immensely since the 1970s and 1980s. Entire categories of work have disappeared because of globalization. The Internet has created jobs that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

China seems to be the future, and America is losing steam. Throughout history, there has been a long line of primary world powers: Britain, Spain, Rome, and Greece, to name a few. Is it the fate of Americans to follow the British? What can Americans do that can’t be done better or cheaper elsewhere in the world? Not manufacturing. Perhaps not programming.

America still leads in some areas — the Internet, technology (more in software than in hardware), consumer goods, medicine (especially pharmaceutical), and entertainment. Some marketing is hard to outsource because it requires cultural and linguistic fluency. We are competitive in telecommunication, but other countries like Norway and Japan are at least as competent. And anything that can be more cheaply outsourced will either disappear from developed countries or at best become much less lucrative.

There are limited areas that offer job security for Americans. The people who earn this money will continue to finance the local support professions like construction, accounting, and food service.

The point here is this: As you identify your cowbell, consider whether it’s something the people in your country will be able to pay for.

Endangered Jobs to Avoid

These are jobs noted to be vulnerable to outsourcing: call-center operators, customer service and back-office jobs, information technology, accounting, architecture, advanced engineering design, news reporting, stock analysis, and some medical and legal services.

Relatively Safe Jobs To Take

Some jobs have a more stable prognosis in the States; maybe your cowbell fits well into one of these areas. Or, if you’re not sure about your cowbell, maybe you can develop one that caters to one of these job categories. Either way, it’s good to know that in America (until robots take over), there will always be:

  • Schools, teachers, janitors, bus drivers
  • Police, ambulance drivers, and firefighters
  • People working in the jails and in law enforcement
  • Nurses, doctors, medical technicians
  • Government jobs
  • Construction workers
  • Grocery workers
  • Garbage men

People to make robots and repair robots until we make robots that can make and repair robots.

The point is not all doom and gloom, but don’t be the person who was killed by the saber-toothed tiger because he didn’t want to face reality! Think about what your cowbell is, and try to make it one that can beat your competitors not only in America, but all around the world.

#TChat Wednesday

This post is adapted from “The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice On How To Get Your Dream Job And Make More Money,” co-authored by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn. Brian and Garrison will be appearing on the #TChat Show Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. Eastern time.

photo credit: MoEaFaTi via photopin cc

There’s No Going Back From Global: #TChat Recap

Today’s recap is written by Caty Kobe, a member of the TChat community and the Focus Community Manager.

Last night’s #TChat made one thing was clear: globalization means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. People from all corners of the Twitterverse came forward to share thoughts, ideas, definitions, opinions and suggestions based on years of experiences across a wide variety of cultures.

Many agreed that globalization is creating incredible new opportunities for both workers and their employers, but cautioned that certain opportunities may come at the cost of exploiting other people and cultures. Technology and social media are certainly aiding in breaking down linguistic and physical barriers, yet we agreed there’s no way to automate the dissolution of cultural barriers. In other words, nothing will ever replace the good ole fashioned handshake.

Corporate America has a lot to learn from their counterparts overseas. For years we’ve been perceived as operating under the assumption that the American Way is the only way, but globalization is quickly proving this false. In order to succeed, US businesses must invest in diversity programs, language training and offer flexible work schedules. We must be willing and able to accept other cultures as equals.

So how do we attack this daunting to-do list? Leadership teams and employees all share the responsibility in commencing change. Cultural shifts will likely start from the Top, but don’t wait for your boss’ permission to learn a new language or nurture relationships through the web. Globalization has forever changed the way we do business. Better to embrace it and learn the strategies required to succeed in this rapidly shrinking world.

One last thing before I go, please be sure to mark your calendars for Wednesday August 31st. #TChat Radio returns to with an all new live episode! We will be featuring a few special friends from the 12 Most Blogging Community! Look forward to sharing more details with you soon. Our goal is to bring two live radio shows every month along with our regular #TChat on Twitter which happens every Wed from 7-8pm ET.

You can read the #TChat preview here, and here were last night’s questions:

Q1: How is globalization changing the world of work?

Q2: What lessons can US workers & leaders learn from their international colleagues?

Q3: What role does workplace or business culture play when working internationally or with global teams?

Q4: What can leaders do better to meet the needs of a global or international business?

Q5: How is technology or social media influencing the rise of global business?

Q6: What are the biggest opportunities for organizations going global?  Biggest drawbacks?