Leadership 4.0: Leader Profile

As I said in a previous post, Industry 4.0 is about agility, and leadership 4.0 will require that same mindset. In this post, I want to look at the Leadership 4.0 profile in both an organizational and individual framework.


  1. Workforce’s, especially the technical, digital and engineering teams, must be able to analyze data, present good information and respond fast with their predictions and decisions across the business.
  2. Teams won’t be fixed but instead they will be fluid, formed from the skills required for cross-functional projects.  This will require exceptional organizational and delegation skills from digital leaders who understand where those talents are and how to distribute tasks according to competence and need.
  3. Leadership 4.0 will require digital leaders who can take responsibility of the people-side of this massive, ongoing change, with clear direction and management in an open, employee-centric environment.1
  4. Employees must be primary within the organization. If your employees are not well cared for, then the organization’s ability to take care of its other stakeholders will be limited.
  5. Employee-driven. Solutions to issues will come from the employees, not the leaders. It is bottom-up leadership. If the information is share fully within the organization, the power of ideas and creativity within the organization come together to form the solutions. The problem too often is that leaders do not provide all the necessary data and information to the employees, thus limiting the power of the talents and skills within the organization to come up with solutions. This is an attempt at control, which I will mention below.
  6. Organizations will need to be focused on creating an infinite mindset. For more information on having an infinite mindset and playing the infinite game, see Simon Sinek’s interview here and his talk here.


4.0 leaders must foster “a transparent, creative culture that can bend and move as change and situations dictate.  This new work environment will be a big and possibly uncomfortable move for many who are used to closed and rigid project management within traditional manufacturing environments.” They will need to be a new breed, “leading in a way that organisations haven’t seen before, prepared to embrace a very different way of working – just as their employees will be encouraged to develop their skills to become cross-functional in the way they work for their own personal needs and the common goal of the organisation.” Leadership will need to mirror the technology of Industry 4.0 and IoT in that connectivity is at its core. Some call this Connected Leadership for that very reason.2

So here some qualities of a 4.0 Leader:

  1. Highly relational. The leader needs to know those whom they lead, their motivations, their desires, and the skill sets they hold. This allows them to fashion highly effective teams with varying skill sets.
  2. They are highly adaptable. Processes cannot be set in stone. Some processes must be tossed and others maintained but rigidity in practice and process must be eliminated. The landscape of work and function is changing rapidly and the leader must be able to adapt his/her thinking and processes, even if it is just a tweak. And the leader needs to be transparent about the strategies and processes they adopt, and why they adopt it, so all members of the team can be on the same page.
  3. Trusting.  4.0 Leaders have to trust the people they lead. You cannot allow for the self-organization of teams, allowing those teams to create and drive solutions for the organization, without a high degree of trust. And the teams you lead must KNOW that you trust them.
  4. Limited control and employee-driven. High levels of trust mean limited control. Because most of the solutions that are developed are not leader-led but employee-driven, control in outcomes will be limited. One of the reasons leaders are not fully transparent about their strategy is that they distrust how people will use that information. So they hold it close to the vest. This results in people making sub-optimal decisions because they don’t know all that is happening within the organization.
  5. Learning. The culture of the organization must be a learning organization, both inside and outside the domain of the organization. Leaders, as a result, must learn from those outside their industry. Generalists, not specialists, have greater creativity, are more agile, and are able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see. Consider this book by David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.


  1. Leadership 4.0 and Why You Need to Know About it. http://providepeople.com/leadership-4-0-and-why-you-need-to-know-about-it/.
  2. Ibid.

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