The world of work is evolving at a pace that’s we haven’t seen in decades…so much so that some are calling this the fourth industrial revolution.  In this three part series, I’ll be exploring some research and insights that will redefine what ‘leading a team’ will require in the workplace of the future. The game is changing, and so are the rules.

As Millennials begin to permeate the workforce, the old model of work is no longer effective. A revolution in the world of work is occurring – and here’s what you need to know to get ahead of it.

It’s 2019. To those who just joined us, welcome! We live in a world of broad societal changes, digital disruption, and fast moving global markets. In the world of work, this means that there are a whole new set of expectations from companies if they hope to succeed. Whether companies have speed, agility, adaptability, and innovation now determines their survival in today’s global marketplace.

Consequently, the workforce is undergoing similar seismic changes. On top of having a whole new generation begin to enter their workforce, companies are now expected to innovate rapidly and adapt to ever-changing trends. The game itself is changing rapidly, and companies now need to play within a whole new set of rules, and meet a different set of requirements.

Since 2014, Deloitte has been surveying more than 11,000 business and HR leaders and interviewing executives from today’s leading organizations in order to capture these ever-evolving human resource trends. Their most recent reports paint a picture of massive transformation going on in the corporate world. While their 2016 report suggests that nearly all (92%) of the surveyed companies saw redesigning their organization as important, their 2017 survey points to the fact that companies are now beginning to realize that agility and collaboration are among the most critical determining factors of their organization’s success.

So what’s causing all this talk about change? According to Deloitte’s findings, organizations are increasingly realizing that the industrial-age models that they have been operating under for decades are no longer relevant. While these traditional models based on a hierarchical structures (i.e., the ‘org chart’) were adapted to an era of predictable commercial patterns, they are no longer suitable to an era of unpredictability and constant disruption.

The question of “for whom do you work” is now being replaced by “with whom do you work”. In other words, hierarchies are now being replaced by networks.

In this new model of work, authority is decentralized, and organizations are structured in a way that best allows for collaboration, communication, and employee empowerment. Work is accomplished in small and highly empowered teams, which is, ultimately, a more natural way for humans to work.

Within these smaller team structures, information flow is rapid, and employees are empowered to set their own goals and make their own decisions. They are led by team leaders who are experts in their domain, and have clearly-defined missions.

For organizations to stay agile, these teams need to be quickly built, deployed, disbanded, and reformed. Additionally, employees need to be able to move from team to team as needed as mission or technical specialists, while information needs to be efficiently shared between teams.

Remember the days where all information needed to be sent up the chain of command, authority was never to be questioned, and decisions were only to be made by those in the top tier? Well, those days seem to be numbered.

So what does this mean to you as you lead your teams and organization into the second decade of the 21st century? Ultimately, I think it boils down to this – relationships matter in the world of work now more than ever before.

In our decades of work building teams in companies around the world, we’ve learned that relationships are the foundation of performance. Within small teams, this is especially true – the relationships that you have with each member of the small team that you lead, in addition to your ability to build relationships within the team, will determine whether or not successful collaboration will happen.

More importantly, within this new network-based organizational structure, information needs to be shared between work teams, and teams need to be able to effectively collaborate with one another. Also, employees need to be able to move from team to team, working with a variety of people. Consequently, having a well-connected workforce may be one of the most important success criteria of the organization of the future.

As this new model increasingly takes hold in businesses and organizations around the world, I believe that there needs to be an accompanying paradigm shift. Relationships now need to be valued over power, while collaboration needs to be prioritized over control. Leadership now needs to be more about empowerment, than it is domination.

After all, when the game changes, so do your priorities.

So what? At Summit, we’re proud to offer both team development programs that equip small teams with the skills to succeed, but larger team building programs that provide participants with the opportunity to network and build relationships with those that they don’t normally work with. We believe that relationships and connection are the key to the top performing teams and organizations of the future, and are driven to help as many teams as possible realize this ideal.