In my previous post, I looked at how digital disruption is placing new demands on leaders at financial services companies. This time, I’ll take a closer look at three key trends that are changing what is required of financial services leaders, according to research from the Accenture Institute for High Performance. The trends are networks connect, talent fragments and organizations open.

Networks connect

New technologies such as artificial intelligence and the latest collaboration tools are changing the structure of the financial services workforce from rigid hierarchies to a more dynamic pool of talent. As more routine aspects of work are automated, the work left for humans becomes disproportionately creative, judgment-oriented, and social in nature.

Financial services leaders must prepare for profound changes here—for example, getting loan officers or underwriters to team with data scientists to leverage new and broader sets of data from both within and outside the company. They may also need to prepare for new workforce roles, such as ecosystem architects who facilitate external collaboration around disruptive new business model ideas and potential collaborations.

New structures and managerial principles will emerge, which will mean playing by different rules and rewarding different behaviors. Talent practices will evolve, such as performance management systems based on real-time data, onboarding processes that help employees develop and connect with personal networks, and machine intelligence and analytics that reliably screen for people who thrive in highly networked organizations.

Talent fragments

The Accenture Institute for High Performance talks about four ways that digital technology is fragmenting talent.

  • Organizations are using specialized talent exchanges to access new talent pools including remote workers, those in rural areas, those with talent but without formal credentials, workers over 65, part-time working parents, freelancers, and even volunteers from the crowd.
  • Digital advances are disrupting conventional notions of how work is organized and accomplished. For example, we’re seeing jobs split into modular tasks that are then digitally stitched together into a large, unified project.
  • Workers are seeking rewards beyond a paycheck. Many hold employers to a new standard; sometimes the standard is environmental, sometimes it is aesthetic, and sometimes it is cultural.
  • As companies adopt robots, machines, and algorithms to perform or augment work, they are also reshaping labor markets.

Pulling this world of fragmented, contested talent together demands more agile and collective leadership. Leaders must master the art of coordinating teams to come together to solve problems or exploit opportunities and then to disband just as rapidly. And they will find it essential to have a clear organizational purpose that resonates with employees if they are to secure the best talent.

Organizational openness

Many financial services organizations have been plagued by a lack of accountability and slow decision-making. Now, there is a trend towards more rapid, transparent and democratic decision-making that engages employees further down the hierarchy. This shift is inevitable in a world where humans and machines leave a digital trail that is easily followed and where it is difficult to keep big news secret.

To make openness work, insurance leaders need to have the courage to try new things and even to fail publicly. They will need to develop very high emotional intelligence—to set aside hurt feelings, to use feedback for honest self-examination and to participate in dialogue in which they might not have all the answers.

My concluding post in this series will look at how executives will need to grow to successfully lead the digital enterprise characterized by vibrant networks, fragmented talent and openness.

To find out more, read Leading the digital enterprise

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