Inspired and diverse leadership to drive the digital enterprise of the 2020s
The 2020s company is unlike anything that has come before it – though highly digital in its delivery and operations, it is built around an open and experimental culture. A tech-driven business needs the human touch like never before. It is not a contradiction. As the Great Resignation unfolds, it’s clear that organizations need an inspired, forward-looking culture that attracts and energizes talented people. Look no further than Amazon Web Services as the ultimate business of the 2020s, and for more information on what it takes to lead in this era, we turn to Maureen Lonergan, vice president of training and certification for Amazon Web Services and a strong advocate for diversity in the workplace.
The 2020s have brought about a demand for new types of leadership qualities. “Global and interdependent economies, a focus on digital transformation, and accelerating and disruptive change across all industries have made it more important than ever for leaders to be lifelong learners – and to foster this. mindset in all of their organizations,” says Lonergan. “In environments that encourage a mindset of continuous learning, people are allowed – and actively encouraged – to learn and experiment without fear of failure.”
Part of AWS, Lonergan says adopting and building digital skills is a must for leaders in the 2020s. “Our latest global digital skills survey found that 85% of workers say they now need more technical knowledge to do their job due to the pandemic,” she says. “There are good reasons to bet on the development of technical skills.” Growing digitalization will result in 97 million new positions by 2025, she notes, adding that “these jobs not only provide increased income, but are also in growing industry sectors that are more resilient to disruption. sudden”.
This is where inspired and forward-looking leadership is essential. “Closing the skills gap will take intentional and sustained efforts from both the private and public sectors – and we have work to do,” says Lonergan, noting that AWS is committed to helping 29 million people develop their skills. cloud skills training by 2025. “Our goal is to make cloud skills training available to anyone, anywhere – and so far we have trained six million people worldwide in this effort. .”
The 2020s leader must open up businesses to diversity, as there are significant opportunities for women and minorities in the growing digital economy. “Women played an important role in computing as early as the 18th century – watch Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and Katherine Johnson to name a few industry pioneers,” she says. The challenge, she continues, is that women’s participation in the IT industry is declining. This is due to structural barriers such as unconscious bias, isolation, supervisory relationships, promotion processes, and competing life responsibilities. She urges women and minorities who are advancing in digitally-enabled careers to “embrace risk-taking, mentorship and creating a work-life balance.” She provides additional tips to help create a culture that encourages women and underrepresented groups to thrive in IT careers:
Lonergan provides six key tips every 2020 business leader should be aware of:
- Learn and be curious – and encourage everyone to do so. “Invest in and nurture an environment that puts employee development and experimentation first,” she says. At AWS, for example, a key leadership principle is “learn and be curious,” which urges company employees to “take safe risks and know that it’s okay to fail.” . Failure is not fatal, it is fundamental. Providing this kind of environment is essential for disruptive innovation.
- Adopt a “learner mentality”: Such a mindset “has been essential in shaping who I am and my overall career success,” she says. “I always strive to learn something new from everyone I meet and the things I read. And I don’t just learn things that are directly related to my work; for example, during the pandemic, I taught myself to play the guitar.
- Remember that balance is essential. The 2020s leader must prioritize personal well-being, time spent with family and friends, and what’s important at work, says Lonergan. Everything else is secondary. “I run every morning before I start my day, and I’ve run several half marathons this year and my first triathlon.”
- Build the people around you. Think “about creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive environment where people can thrive and grow in their careers,” advises Lonergan. “It can mean mentoring others, empowering people by asking them to take on big projects, making sure everyone has a voice in meetings. There are so many ways this can take shape, but it doesn’t happen by accident.You need to be aware of the impact you have and be proactive in how you leverage your leadership role.
- Encourage community-based approaches: Lonergan urges leaders to actively seek out and nurture communities that build employee trust and promote diversity. “We need to proactively engage and encourage leadership sponsorship of formalized employee communities,” she says. “Promoting the alliance among employees helps employees develop a healthy sense of self-worth and professional value. Stronger, more resilient and more engaged employees perform better individually and as a team.
- Keep in mind that leadership is a state of mind, not a formal title: “Being a leader is not a title; it’s a way of being in your personal and professional life that is centered on others,” says Lonergan. “It’s not as simple as taking a course or attending a seminar,” she says. Instead, it’s about “how you present yourself to the world — with an inquisitive mindset, ready to learn from failure — is the key to every door you face.”