Ellie Nieves
Women's Leadership Speaker & Coach

For years, business leaders and futurists have debated about what the workplace of the future will look like. The year is 2018. More and more corporations are incorporating telecommuting, artificial intelligence (“AI”), automation, and augmented reality into their day to day operations. More people are telecommuting, working in virtual teams, and incorporating AI — think SIRI, Alexa and Google Home — into their everyday lives. The future is here NOW.

The Center for an Urban Future, a think tank dedicated to independent research about key policy issues facing New York and other cities, recently issued a report on how automation will transform jobs in New York City. They found that one in 10 jobs in New York City could be largely automated with technology that exists today. The reality is that regardless of your occupation or what level you are at in your career, automation and machine learning will likely re-shape your industry. To set yourself up for career success, you will need to develop management skills to adapt to the new challenges and opportunities these new technologies will pose. Here are five management skills you will need to stay ahead of the robots:   

1. Adaptability:

There’s a great storyline in the movie Hidden Figures where one of the characters, Dorothy (played by Octavia Spencer), learns about the impending installation of an IBM computer that will replace human computers at her job. Dorothy is a woman of limited means, but she spends her free time at the public library teaching herself about computer programming. By the time the IBM computer is installed, Dorothy is prepared for the change and is promoted to lead a team to work with the computer. Dorothy read the writing on the wall and took the necessary steps to adapt to a changing work environment. As new technologies transform industries, we must adapt to those changes to ensure our long-term career success. Doing our work the same way we have always done it may result in us being perceived as resistant to change. In the worst-case scenario, we may be left behind, replaced, or eliminated. Adaptability, is therefore crucial in these changing times. Do some research about your industry and what the transformative trends are. How will those trends impact you? Your department? Your company? How can you begin to position yourself to succeed in a changing work environment? Can you take some online courses to enhance your skillset? Do you need to go back to school to get an advanced degree? Do you need to get a technical certificate to learn how to work with the new technologies that are being incorporated into your workplace? Set some goals that are aligned with the future of your industry and begin to take on tasks that will prepare you for upcoming changes.

2. Information Management:

As we develop our leadership skills for the future, learning how to manage information and its flow is important. While technology has made information more readily available and accessible, knowing how to prioritize and use that information presents challenges – just look at your email inbox. We get flooded with email messages every day. Some of the information is important and some of it is spam; some of it we need now, some of it we will need later. With every piece of information that flows across our desks and through our electronic devices, we must decide its importance and its utility. The ability to make quick judgement calls about how to process, catalogue, save, share and use information will give you an edge in the workplace of the future.  

3. Accountability:

In the workplace of the future, long gone will be the days of clocking in and out. Putting in your hours at the office as an accountability measure will be a thing of the past. Companies are moving away from where and how people work and are more focused on the results employees produce. That means employees will be much more autonomous, but they will also be 100 percent accountable for the results they produce.

4. Critical Thinking:

As artificial intelligence and automation take over the routine ad repetitive functions of many jobs, more and more of our value at work will come from our ability to think through more complex issues and to develop creative solutions to those issues. Critical thinking requires the ability to analyze a situation, view it from different perspectives and consider the various approaches that can be applied to each. Critical thinking is a foundational management skill needed for strong decision-making and career success in the future.

5. Emotional Intelligence:

Emotional intelligence refers to your ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. This will be an in-demand skill in the workplace of the future. Managers who are able to sharpen this ability, can more effectively lead and work with employees and colleagues. In virtual and or mobile team settings, this skill becomes all the more important. In other words – you can lead more effectively. You can begin to enhance your emotional intelligence by being more aware of yourself and being more aware of others you work with. Become better aware of how you respond to situations, what your triggers and hot buttons are and how you are perceived by others. Then go about learning the same factors about the people you work with. Don’t just be passive in your interactions, particularly in a world where we primarily communicate by email. Utilize technology to be more in tune — make a phone call instead of sending an instant message or a text. Set up a video conference with your team rather than a conference call. Keep your radar up for subtle queues that give you insight into others. When you have this information about yourself and about others, you are better positioned to flex your leadership style to more effectively influence and lead in a workplace driven by technology. Developing emotional intelligence can take time — but it is an essential skill worth learning.

Managing means having technical skills, conceptual skills,project management skills, technical skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, co-ordination skills, interpersonal skills, conflict management skills, people management skills and so many other basic management skills. Good managers know that this goes for managing any effective business, problem, teams,or tasks at hand.


Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA, develops webinars, seminars, and coaching programs to help high achieving women show up, speak up, and step up in their careers. She is also the host of the Leadership Strategies for Women Podcast where she shares success tips to help women achieve more both personally and professionally. To learn more, go to:  www.EllieNieves.com.