HR Works Podcast

HR Works Transcript: This Is What Leadership Looks Like in 10 Years

In last week’s HR Works podcast episode we discussed the future of leadership and the workplace with expert Lisa Rueth, the Senior Partner and CEO of Cultivate Leadership, a consulting firm that is dedicated to leadership science, organizational design, and executive coaching. If you missed it, or would prefer to read the interview, here is a transcript of that podcast.

James: Hello, everyone, and welcome to HR Works, the podcast for HR professionals. We really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to join us. I am HR Works’ host, Jim Davis, and the editor of the HR Daily Advisor. This podcast aims to put valuable tools and knowledge in the hands and ears of you, the HR professional. Those tools will arm you with the best methods and strategies for attracting, motivating, and retaining top talent. All along, HR has had another job: predicting the future. The urgency of that job grows with each passing year as various technologies rapidly advance. In a presentation that I recently attended, Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, stated that skills learned today will be obsolete in 5 years. That stunning fact alone well couches the problem at hand. Technology is evolving far too quickly for employees to keep up, and HR is the exception.

Today’s guest specializes in what the workplace—and, in particular, leadership—will look like in 2025. I’m pleased to introduce Lisa Rueth, the senior partner and CEO of Cultivate Leadership, a consulting firm that is dedicated to leadership science, organizational design, and executive coaching. With over 20 years of experience, Lisa has dedicated her career to helping organizations with the mechanics of leadership, human performance, and systems of collaboration. She studied applied leadership and organizational psychology at Ken Blanchard School of Business and did graduate work in authentic leadership at Naropa University. She also has a master’s degree in social change, marrying her passion for empowering leaders doing world-changing work.

James: I feel like there’s a missing part there.

Lisa: No, that’s it.

James: What are you marrying your passion to?

Lisa: I think the passion is marrying leadership to social change. Really, the enabler of social change is leadership. I think leadership is the key to the door.

James: All right. Well, thanks for that clarification. I think I’m going to leave that all in there. Finally, Lisa has given talks at BLR® events in the past, and we’re very pleased to have her today. Lisa, thank you so much for joining us.

Lisa: Thank you for having me. What a pleasure and an honor.

James: Absolutely. How about we jump right in? There are going to be a lot of changes to the workplace and to leadership over the next 10 years. For example, I see that there’s going to be, by some estimates, as many as 800 million jobs lost globally by 2030. That’s not that many jobs, right?

Lisa: It’s a lot. It’s a lot. It’s even more important to think through how automation will reshape entire industries. Right? It’s not just the jobs that we’re losing—it’s entire industries and people who have particular skills. Like a large majority of some of those industries will be—think of trucking, right? Think of cars. They’re autonomous. Think of trains, transportation, and airplanes. So, what we end up with are people. There’s an entire category of people who are skilled for hands-on work that we have, over time—over the last 50 years, become more and more accustomed to outsourcing to other workers around a globalized marketplace. So, losing jobs is a problem within itself, but losing jobs for a particular category of people is also a problem that we have to grapple with.

James: Right. So this thing’s not going to hit equally. I think maybe it would be more manageable if you said, “Okay, across all industries, we need to lose, whatever that is, .5% of our jobs.” But I’ve been following the automation of the trucking industry—that example that you brought up. It hasn’t quite happened yet, but it’s on the cusp. And that’s a lot of education, a lot of time, and a lot of people who learned one thing. What’s going to happen to these people?

Lisa: I think that’s a really interesting question. I think we are at a transition. And I think that’s the most important thing to recognize here. For me, there is a difference between a change and a transition. A change is something that happens on this date at this time. So, we turn the lights on in the new building, or we go live with the new product. And I don’t think that automation is going to happen that suddenly. I think it’s going to happen slowly. I live part of my time in the Bay Area and part of my time in Austin, Texas. And in the bay, there’s already little robots that literally drive down the street with your takeout in Berkeley. You can scan a QR code when it comes to your door. It makes its way up your elevator. It goes through your gates, pushes codes, and delivers your food right to the door.

James: Wow.

Lisa: So, it’s not just truck drivers, which is a massive industry in the United States. But it’s also people who do the majority of the work of, sort of, life. Right? So, it’s our service industry, our customer service industry, and our transporters. It’s the people who basically make life work who will slowly have to be retrained and make space for different types of skills in workplaces that have been traditionally withheld for people who have office skills.

Now, there’s an upside to that, as well. Right? We now are welcoming people who know how to collaborate in different ways, who get work done in a very real-time sort of hands-on way that isn’t quite so heady as the rest of us. But I think it’s a shift. So transition, to me, is really important because we are straddling the old way of living and doing work. And the new way isn’t quite here yet. So basically, neither way is working. And that, to me, means, as someone who is sort of a leadership nerd [that the future will look very different]. It’s been my passion. My whole life is this concept of leadership. That, to me, means that the leaders of the future will look very different. But it also means that the leaders for the transition need to be skilled in both the old way and the new way. And are the people who will sort of recreate those jobs recreate industries for people who are skilled in a particular way?

James: Now, let’s focus on leadership in particular. Leadership’s a critical part of HR and obviously of the operation of any major organization. Maybe you could sort of define the characteristics of your average leader today and what this person might look like in, say, 10 years.

Lisa: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, no, I think that’s a really important thing to think about. 10 years is an important time frame because I have this picture of myself from 1997 when I was a young manager in telecom. One of our CEOs came for this big awards gathering that we would have quarterly. I was getting one of those manager awards for quarterly performance, and he came in and gave us this big motivational speech in 1997 about how in the not-too-distant future, we were all going to not have landlines. And we were in telecom, right? This is what we did was we connected landlines to people’s homes and talked about how to make technology work. And he said, “Yeah, people will have their own personal communication device in their pocket.” And we laughed at him.

And in 2007, even my grandmother had an iPhone®. Right? So 10 years later, we went from having 3% of information being stored electronically to 94% of information being stored electronically. And it was all because of the pace of technology really pushing us forward. That’s evidenced by the fact that today, at the time of this recording, the iPhone is not even 12 years old—but think about how much our lives have changed because of it. Right? I doubt that that executive knew, when he talked about what would happen in 10 years, that we would also check the weather on that device or that we would also map to our locations with our GPS or that we would use it to record podcasts, of all things.

There’s a massive amount of advancement that can happen in 10 years. And thinking about what leaders need to do in such a rapidly changing world—we’re sort of really moving from this traditional way of thinking about leading. I lead organizations through strategic planning; change management; and sort of crisis management, depending on what’s going on, as well as growth planning. And for most of us, what we’ve trained our whole lives for is to plan 3 to 5 years out, to have short-term and long-term goals, to have flawless planning, to set targets and avoid failure, and to have sort of rigorous analysis before we pick a path because no one wants to waste resources. We check in with those things periodically, and we spend a lot of time checking ourselves to the vision.

Lisa: And I think the very technology that created that iPhone or smartphones in general is a sort of agile technology. And for people who don’t quite know what agile is, I’m a very rudimentary technology person, so I can describe it in the lowest common denominator. Agile is basically getting a product to good enough and then allowing your customers to give you real-time feedback about what’s working. So, this is the very reason why I don’t update my phone the first two or three times it warns me. Right? I don’t know if you do, but-

James: Nope.

Lisa: For me, it always feels like maybe it’s going to mess something up, right?

James: Yeah. And as always, those little patches that come out afterward, yeah, absolutely.

Lisa: Yeah, so I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know if I’d be better if I were sort of one of those bleeding-edge people. But I think that the model of technology today is to allow your customers to test your products, to not waste 3 to 5 years in R&D, and to be able to get real-time, fail fast, sort of enlightened trial-and-error ways of thinking. And this is directly from what they call the agile manifesto. It’s this, you’ve probably heard, fail fast, right? I think in Silicon Valley, they say things like, “Move fast, and break things.”

James: Well, that was going to be one of my questions—if you could tell me what failing fast is.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. So, I think this is also a leadership skill—to make sure that we keep going back to your question about what the skills are of the leaders of the future. Failing fast in some organizations today means innovate; try it out; pilot it in a small, fairly contained way; and figure out if it works before we spend a whole lot of money. That’s sort of the sense of what fail fast means. The conflict is that the leadership that we’ve all been taught,  the large body of work that most of us have studied over our careers, is about rigorous analysis and flawless planning. And failure is not calculated in there, right? Failure is not an option. So we have to have C-suite leaders who have an appetite for this idea of piloting, failing, and extracting what we’ve learned as a positive thing, not as how we’ve coined the term “failure.”

James: What I’m thinking about this entire time is rigidity. And it sounds current. As you describe current leadership trends, it’s so rigid, but everything’s changing so quickly, and we all know that if something that’s rigid is faced with change, it breaks.

Lisa: Absolutely, yeah.

James: So flexibility seems to be critical here. And I can’t help but wonder. I mean, people pride themselves on being stubborn. Talk to any family member. Oh, I’m so stubborn. And everyone laughs, but that’s not a … that doesn’t seem like a quality that can last in what’s coming over the next 10 years.

Lisa: Yeah, no, actually, that’s a really good point. If you think about the C-suite in itself, if you think about the people who are really the holders of the keys to strategy and vision, that is probably where we’ll see the largest shift in skill set. And you’re starting to see it today. You’re starting to see this sort of grand divide between legacy-run Fortune 50 or Fortune 500 companies that have a traditional way of thinking that feels top-down. Right? It feels cascaded throughout the organization. Even with really dynamic and enthusiastic visionary leaders, it’s still sort of cascaded in a top-down way. This is where we’re going. Get on the bus. Let’s make sure we have the right people on the bus.

And then, you see some of these lifestyle companies—the Googles and the Ubers. There are so many of these disruptors, the Airbnbs of the world that are really more focused at this point on the value that they’re providing—and providing something that’s really agile and can shift. And so everything that we’ve learned about long-term planning sort of goes out the window at that point. And what does that require?

If you’re a director, if you are a VP, if you’re in the C-suite, and for sure if you’re a CHRO, the task is how to get our organizational development to match the strategy. That’s always the task: OK. The strategies come out, and the visions come out. Now, how do we get the organization to build enough capacity to execute the strategy?

Well, the problem is that the strategy—when it comes from a top-down place—may be missing intel, valuable intel from the ground. Right? From the ground floor. From the touch points that have the most intel about customers. From the touch points that have the most intel about why the product does or doesn’t work. Those people are almost never at the table in strategic planning. And so, some of that valuable intel is lost. And what you’re finding in some of these younger start-up-mentality organizations that wear T-shirts to work, and ride bikes instead of driving cars, and have innovation rooms where they can take naps—what they’re doing is they’re specializing in the “I don’t know” of leadership. They’ve actually flipped leadership on its head, and they’ve said, “I don’t know. The customer does. So, I’m going to find all the ways to ask him or her.” And that—that’s humble.

James: Yeah, it’s humble indeed and also pretty risky, I imagine. A good example might be Google. Eventually, it developed an alphabet to sort of house all its development, but before that, it was just innovating new things all the time and taking huge risks, spending all this money making Google glasses or—I can’t even think of all the features that we’ve lost from Google since it first really became popular. And that’s kind of the point, right? It tried it rapidly, it didn’t work, it axed it, and it moved on. And it hasn’t seemed to have harmed Google in the least, right?

Lisa: Right. And what I always remind leaders who want to use Google as the example is that you don’t have to be Google. I think Google is an innovation company. Actually, its product is innovation, right? So, the rest of us don’t have to be innovation providers. We can be innovative in whatever we specialize in. So there’s a spectrum, and I think Google’s really far to one end of the sort of fail fast methodology because that’s its IP in the world. But I do think that for anyone who’s in health care, education, some of these traditional industries, products, manufacturing, or transportation—all of my clients who are in all of those areas are still pushing up against the old way of thinking and also looking at Google and saying, “Well, I can never be a Google, so why try?” And I think there’s just this massive spectrum, and it’s going to require some transitional leaders. It’s going to require some people who know how to speak Millennial and how to work within hierarchical structures at the same time.

Now, you mentioned the 800 million jobs lost to automation. And there’s several other points that will happen. One of them in the next 10 years is that Millennials will assume control of our workplaces. Millennials are at the age now where they’re educated; they will have work experience; and their values about collaboration, shared power, and leadership will be the majority in workplaces a decade from now. And so, when I sort of straddle, I’m not in the generation that is retiring in the next 10 years. And I have children who are millennials, right? And so I’m in the middle, and I consider myself one of those leaders who has to speak both languages. It’s really old world/new world.

James: Yeah. I’m an elder. They call us elder Millennials. At the very oldest, I think I can still be considered a Millennial. And I can’t even begin to tell you how many article pitches and discussions are about what Millennials want and what Millennials need, to the point where I’m kind of sick of it, especially the ones that say, “Well, Millennials don’t need to get paid a lot. They just need good experience.” But I digress.

Lisa: Well, there are a lot of stereotypes built into that, right?

James: Yeah. I mean, how are you going to tackle it without that, though?

Lisa: Yeah, I’ve been to the conferences, too, where there’s always someone speaking in a room next to me about how to handle Millennials in the workplace. And what I think we’re responding to is this sort of radical shift that we don’t know how to manage. It’s not about Millennials, necessarily. It’s about the fact that technology is changing how we do business. And in order for us to get the work done at the pace that technology’s setting for us, we’re going to have to be more collaborative. We’re going to have to have more shared power. We’re going to have to be a lot more competent with complexity, right?

And these are not the things that leaders have specialized in for all of time. What our job has always been is taking something very complex and turning it into a very ordered, linear set of decisions and then sort of check off those decisions. And you can take any one of the world’s problems today. Name your least favorite news headline, and-

James: Yeah, ocean temperatures are rising. Oh, were you asking me?

Lisa: Yeah, all of those things. Exactly. So ocean temperatures are rising.

James: That’s the one.

Lisa: What about migration? We have global migration. And so, what we’re seeing is that we’re taking these incredibly complex problems like ocean temperatures rising and human migration around the world, and we’re trying to make them simple and linear, but it just doesn’t work because they’re too complex. Right? So-

James: Yeah, that’s a really good point.

Lisa: Yeah, so there’s no binary answer to solving ocean temperatures rising. There’s no “if we do this, it will all change.” There’s many, if not thousands, of those decisions that need to be taken in concert with each other because they happened in concert with each other to create this complexity.

Lisa: So, I would say in the future, when the leader will be about knowing the answer and when the leaders I coach, the executives I coach,  tell you what the top thing we spend our time on is, I’m not allowed not to know. They’re paying me the most in the organization. I’m supposed to know. Right? And we’re moving away from that to being facilitators—to being people who come in saying, “I don’t know, but I know how to get the right people in the room to find out.”

James: Yeah, that’s something I think my generation, just based on the people I know and that my colleagues excel at. I remember being in school, and we didn’t really have the rote memorization, at least in my school system. It was all about learning how to access the information that you need. So maybe I don’t remember, I don’t know, all those GRE words or those SAT words, but I know how to find them if I need to. And that’s much more powerful because I only have to … I really only even have to focus on something that’s a small group of knowledge that I can branch out into an extreme wealth of knowledge [crosstalk 00:23:42].

Lisa: Absolutely. Yeah, no, I mean, I was just thinking back to that example that I gave earlier of the phone in our pocket and all the things we do with it. And so you and my kids grew up in an era in which information is at your fingertips. Where, from the backseat, my kids could ask, “Why do llamas spit?” And 20 years ago, I would say, “I don’t know. We have to go home and look in the encyclopedia to find that out.” But before they finish the sentence, they can access the information in their hand. So, we’ve taught the last two generations how to find information, not how to be knowers. And I think it’s a really important distinction to say that that’s a transitional leadership skill—find it, facilitate the answers, and don’t know the answer.

James: I imagine that there is some resistance from your clients and people you work with to these kinds of concepts.

Lisa: For sure. I think it’s a huge honor and a burden to be a leader in today’s world because we are all simultaneously striving to climb the career ladder for ourselves and disgusted by how abusive power has manifested in everything that we love. Whether it’s our faith traditions, our corporations, our investment bankers, or our whatever. Whatever we are putting our faith into, we’ve all had an experience of letdown, so there’s this tremendous burden of being a leader. And yet, we’re still operating under this old framework that a leader must know all the answers because you get paid the most money. You must make things linear and black and white. There’s a lot of absolute thinking that is culturally required. It’s sort of required of us as leaders—or we think it is. We’re supposed to have expertise.

And I would say that we’re going to flip that in the next 10 years. You will watch it change. And some of it will be motivated by younger people taking the helm. Some of it will be motivated by the fact that technology is progressing so quickly that none of our strategies will work. And when I speak about this, people nod their heads profusely in the audience. They say, “Well, they’re not working now,” right? I can’t tell you how many times we’ve planned year 1 of a 5-year strategy 15 times for the last 15 years.

So, leader will become facilitator. Linear thinkers will thrive in complexity and knowing when they need a bottom-up solution versus a top-down solution versus a real connected, engaged solution. They’re very different prescriptions. Where people are expected to have expertise, we will now reward leaders for providing access—for getting the right people to the table so that the right brains are solving the problems.

James: Let’s talk about some of the big fish. I mean, I suppose if you look into American history, there’s the Rockefellers and the philanthropists we all learned about. And these were people who were setting the policies. They were creating the literal infrastructure of the country. And they were immensely powerful and wealthy. And, of course, there have always been people like that, but now, we have situations when there’s real problems out there that aren’t being addressed, like the environment and global warming, for example. There are so many facets to it that the legislation is slow and/or, in some cases, nonexistent. And this stuff needs to happen right now. And so, we have Elon Musk, and we have Jeff Bezos and people out there who are, kind of ironically, the only people with the ability to actually make changes. And there are Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation to make huge changes to the world in a way that this artifact, this rigid artifact of old-world thinking that is our political system, isn’t doing.

And I look at that as … I mean, some countries out there are tackling it, but we aren’t. I can’t think of anything more important than making sure that we all have a planet here in 25 years. What does it mean, I guess for the workplace, when you have these people who are literally creating policies with their immense wealth and their immense reach?

Lisa: Yeah, no, I think that’s really the question we’re all asking ourselves, right? This is why, for me, there was a thread between leadership and social change because the hierarchical institutions that we know—and we don’t know anything different—are all we have to work with, and they’re failing us for some of these quick turns. And no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on, you can’t argue with the fact that by 2030, there will be more trash in the sea than fish. So take climate completely out of the conversation; we have a trash problem. We have a plastic problem. We have a recycling problem. We have a waste problem. We have two-thirds of the population moving to cities by 2050, right? So, we’re going to compound that problem by crowding and needing lots of infrastructure.

And I think what people like Elon Musk are doing is basically not waiting for some of those institutions to solve the problems. They’re radically disruptive to the status quo. And when you ask, “How do the leaders I work with feel about that?” I would say that it’s typically HR that hires me. It’s typically HR that sort of grabs me by the hand and brings me into its organization because it can see the whole story, right? It’s got its finger on the pulse of all the pain in the organization. And it can see that the status quo needs to be challenged or disrupted. But it doesn’t always have the power, authority, or seat at the strategic table to do so.

So, when I get an audience with the C-suite, what we spend our time working on is the comfort to let go of the death grip on the status quo, right? To challenge the things that we take for granted as not negotiable. There was a Frost and Sullivan research study done about the future of the United States in 2025 and how things will change socially and technologically. And one of the things that I talk about there is that e-governance will be real, right? We’ll have models that allow us to change the shape of government within 10 years—10 to 15 years. Right? So, that’s as long as I’ve had an iPhone in my hand, which doesn’t feel very long to me.

The problem with that pace of change is that we’ve got a lot of people working really hard to hold on to the status quo. And some of those people have a lot of money and are very invested in keeping in the status quo there, right? And so I think that in the spirit of agile and the spirit of piloting in small groups and seeing what we learn, I think that our innovators will be radically disruptive to the status quo on small-scale pilots and on small-scale trials. They won’t need to reorganize the entire government—they’ll start with their city. They’ll start with their community. They’ll start with their institution, right? And as you know, here in the United States especially, but in the West for sure, we really put our leaders on a pedestal. We really worship our entrepreneurs and the people who “make it.”

So, those radically disruptive leaders will be the people who we base the new status quo on. And so what I would say to a change agent, whether you’re just in your organization or in your community, is focus on what you have influence over, and be radically disruptive there.

James: Yeah, that’s a great answer. You were talking about these disruptors. And great examples people always want to talk about are Uber and Lyft. I don’t need a car, especially in larger cities and larger towns. It can be a little bit costly if you’re out in the sticks. But I can just take an Uber or a Lyft. How long before a company like Uber will do our jobs for us, and where do I sign up?

Lisa: Yeah, so many people have made movies about what we’re going to look like when that happens. And I’m on the edge of my seat with you. There’s a connection between the Ubers and Lyfts of the world and the gig economy that will be the norm, right? So in the two cities that I spend most of my time in, San Francisco and Austin, Texas, you can’t find a seat in a coffee shop during the day. So either we’re all working remotely or we’ve all figured out how to put together little bits of our income so that we can live the life we want to live. And a lot of people would argue that there are many in both of those cities not living the life they want to live.

And that’s absolutely true, but I think that going back to this theme of transition again, we are transitioning to a world that is largely run on the gig economy. And for people who don’t know what that means, it’s really sort of killing the 9 to 5 and being able to put together what our income in various different gigs or various different ways. And so I imagine 10 years from now there being a global marketplace where people can put their skills out for use and that automation will help connect us to the people who need our skill sets the most. And so this idea of leaders dying in their chair—I do a lot of coaching with leaders who are dying in their chair because it’s using a part of them to be in this job, but parts of them are dying, right? Parts of them are atrophying because their job isn’t speaking to their whole self, isn’t using their whole self. That will, over the next 10 to 15 years, change. And we will all be able to sort of stay in our sweet spot and get paid for it.

And now, speaking of disrupting, think of all the things that will disrupt. Well, where do I get my health benefits from then? Do I need to rent an office? Can I do that from my apartment? Can I live in a van as long as I have Wi-Fi and do my job? I think all of those questions are relevant questions. And I think there are a lot of people in the world who can’t imagine that will ever happen, but they’re laughing in the same way I laughed when my CEO came to me and said, “We will replace landlines, and you will walk around the Earth with your phone in your pocket.”

James: Yeah, two things. One: I heard somebody recently at a conference say that cell phones won’t be important in 10 years, which, of course, sounds ridiculous, but it happened when cell phones came around. It can easily continue in some sort of unimaginable direction. And the other thing is that I can’t even tell you how many people I know who—and, perhaps, myself included a little bit—work because of the benefits, specifically the health benefits. A lot of my friends and a lot of my colleagues already have gigs in addition. Right now, it’s extra work that they’re doing, and the thing that they’re holding onto their jobs for is the health insurance.

So, if you solved that one problem in this country—let’s say, against all odds, a single payer, a health insurance system, comes into play. Suddenly, as an individual, I can afford health insurance, and so can all my friends. That would really … I mean, that would be a huge change because people wouldn’t need to go to work anymore.

Lisa: What a terrible reason to go to work, right? I mean, for those of us in the HR world, that’s not engagement. Right? We’re doing the best with what we’ve got, but if even 40% of our population is showing up because they’re afraid they’ll someday get a disease and they need to have your health insurance, that’s a terrible reason to go to work every day. And I bet we’re not getting the best of that employee that day, right? We’re getting what we’re paying for. When you talk about health care, the study I quote says that over 60% of Americans will be overweight, and 40% will be obese in 2025. That health care will have to reinvent itself to center on prevention and not disease management. And providers will be replaced by healthcare technology.

So, many of us are now seeing our doctors do telemedicine and being able to text with our nurse practitioner. If our kid’s running a fever, that will speed up in our access to our own lab reports and real-time biometrics. There are people innovating right now with one drop of your blood with an adapter into your smartphone that can give you your real-time biometrics right now—no lab, no doctor, and no one to interpret it. You can really get instant control over your health. So, if health care weren’t so hard to get and so expensive, would we all need the jobs that we have today? Would we do something else?

I think one of my mentors in the world is an alternative economics guru. She has a podcast also called Upstream. She always talks about turning your side hustle into your day-to-day hustle. How can we harness that energy of what we’re so passionate about and make that our day-to-day? Just break the model. Break the commute, the benefits, and the needing your employer to sponsor your 401(k) in order to force retirement. Getting to retirement and realizing it’s not enough money—all of these frameworks are not substantial enough, and they’re not working 100% of the time. And that’s a scary, scary reality, especially for HR people but also for leadership today. It’s a scary reality. I basically just talked you out of going and having a job.

James: Yeah, I think I have to go do that right now, so no. No, it sounds very compelling, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And people are—they’re developing their own skills. I always hear this nonsense from the older generations about how Millennials can’t whatever—they can’t grip a motorcycle handle. But every single person I know from my age group has something he or she goes home and specializes in that most people don’t. And that curiosity and creativity aren’t going to go anywhere. It’s not going to be stopped. If you free up people to go do those things, they will absolutely do them.

Lisa: Right, right. You talked about history, right? And some of the core sort of shapers of American history, especially when it comes to American business. Think about all the different revolutions we’ve been through. We went through the mechanization revolution, when water power and steam power were revolutionizing what we could do. And sure, there was job loss in that, but there was also innovation gained. Right? Then we went through mass production and assembly line revolution. And then, around the generation you were born in, we were really in the computer and automation revolution. We’re, today, in a sort of cyber informational, information technology revolution, when information is as fast as a thought. So, the likelihood of you becoming an expert in something you have endless access to information on is very high, right? And this is why institutions like education are trying to reinvent themselves. This is why so many students are now online students and why there’s free education in all of the political conversations and why there’s educators out there offering their information for free.

So, I think the important thing to realize as we look at history is that we’re still using the best practices from mechanization and from assembly line. Some of us are still struggling to figure out how to make our workplaces more lean or how to make them more efficient or how to make them more utilized. And these are best practices from three revolutions ago.

James: Seems a little outdated, doesn’t it?

Lisa: It is. Yeah, it is.

James: Well, this has been fascinating. I think we’re going to have to end it here. But thank you so much, Lisa, for taking the time to join us today.

Lisa: You’re welcome. Can I leave you with sort of one last thought about-

James: Of course.

Lisa: I would love to say to leaders who say “That was dark and scary, and it didn’t leave me with anything actionable except everything in life is going to change.” So, what I would say is that the leader of the future does three things. We need to reinvent the way that we lead. We need to reinvent the things that we focus on, meaning metrics and measurements. And we need to reinvent the way that we actually get work done together. Those three things are big, huge buckets of work that our HR teams, OD teams, leadership teams, and frontline managers could all be boosting their skill in right now. So, increase the leadership skill for the future. Redefine what “leader” means. Challenge the status quo. Focus on different things rather than the traditional metrics that we focus on today. And reinvent the way that we do work together—the way we harvest information and collaborate together. And if you do those three things, you will stay right with the pace of change.

James: That’s excellent advice. I hope that everyone listening takes it to heart. Yeah, thanks so much for joining us today.

Lisa: Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

James: Same here. Listeners, we’re always interested in suggestions from you. I need my hat for what HR Works should cover next. Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at HR Works podcast if you have any thoughts or concerns or if you just want to say hi. Thanks so much for listening. This is Jim Davis with HR Works.