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Succeeding in Industry 4.0 with Agile Leadership

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By Elizabeth Consolante - June 17, 2019

Organizations choosing to implement Industry 4.0 technologies must ensure that senior leaders have the proper mindsets and capabilities to steer such a change. This transformation will be essential for those wanting to thrive in tomorrow's business environment. Enhanced growth, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement, amongst others, are areas subject to considerable performance enhancements. The key to agile organizations is that they are stable and dynamic all at once. Adaptive, fluid, open, inclusive and nonhierarchical, they thrive in unpredictability and ambiguity.


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It comes as no surprise that people are the biggest hurdle to 4.0 implementation. However, the barrier does not only come from the reluctance of floor employees. Research validates that leadership and the way it frames structure are the biggest drawback, all while being a great enabler, of a fruitful agile shift. As part of the new capabilities that must be acquired by leaders, McKinsey & Company has identified the following three:

  1. Transform themselves to evolve new personal mindsets and behaviours
  2. Transform their teams to work in new ways
  3. Build the capabilities to transform the organization by building agility into the design and culture of the entreprise

Industry 4.0 leaders will have to begin by developing their inner agility. To do so, their mindsets will have to go from reactive to creative. By cultivating innovation, collaboration and value creation through these three mindset shifts, organizations will be properly equipped to foster the ideal agile environment.

  • From certainty to discovery: fostering innovation. Leaders must move away from stability and traditional work methods to further embrace risk and experimentation.
  • From authority to partnership: fostering collaboration. Agile workplaces promote collaboration and networks of autonomous teams where the management style is based on freedom, trust and accountability.
  • From scarcity to abundance: fostering value creation. As today's markets move at an incredible pace, leaders must recognize the unlimited resources and potential value they may add to the organization.


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How to prepare your leaders?

Now that we've covered the concepts and mindsets that organizations must adopt in order to successfully transition to an agile work environment, how do we develop these leaders? Again, McKinsey's report suggests five essential elements to enhance one own's capabilities:

  1. Build a cadre of entreprise agility coaches
  2. Get the top team engaged in developing its own capabilities
  3. Create an immersive leadership experience
  4. Invite leaders to apply their learning in practice
  5. Roll out the leadership capability building at an agile tempo

Getting your teams, and most importantly, your leaders directly involved in the transition to agile leadership will favour the adoption of 4.0 technologies amongst your workforce.


To consult McKinsey&Company's full report on agile leadership, click here.


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