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The Leader of the Future

By Evan Offstein, Contributing Editor, and Jason Morwick

Article Sponsored by: Vinnell Arabia

Do you know what the leader of tomorrow looks like? More importantly, are you developing yourself to be the leader of tomorrow? Top-shelf organizations hire and promote those seen as the leaders of tomorrow - not just the leaders of today.

The most significant trend that we see on the horizon is the growing popularity of teleworkers and virtual teams. Telework is different than telecommuting. In the former, technology dramatically changes how work gets done. In the latter, technology only transforms the commute. There is a big difference. Making telework effective leads to a competitive advantage. Making the commute easier does not.

Start preparing today to lead the teleworkers of tomorrow. Teleworkers will be an organizational reality sooner rather than later. One reason for this change are the demographics of the workforce, specifically the Millennials. These employees may have never operated a VCR or held a paper map. They have been raised on the Internet and feel comfortable working and socializing (e.g., MySpace and Facebook) with this medium.

A second influence is the rise and fall of our infrastructure, specifically the physical side, which includes poorly maintained and wildly congested bridges, roads, and airports. However, as our physical infrastructure has eroded, our virtual infrastructure of optical fiber is improving exponentially. Voice and data transfer is fast and dependable and enhances file sharing, movie and voice transmission (think Vonage and YouTube).

Finally, the surging rise in energy and commodity prices has forced both businesses and their employees to look for ways to save on energy and fuel consumption. With telework, employees spend less on fuel and save more time by not waiting in traffic jams. Equally important, firms pay less on real estate and the associated overhead, such as owning, maintaining, lighting, and heating office space. This win/win situation almost guarantees that telework is here to stay. What is missing however is leadership - there are not enough people who know how to lead teleworkers. Using traditional leadership techniques to lead the workers of the future is a mistake and one that could cost a firm its competitive advantage.


Dr. Evan H. Offstein is the author of “Stand Your Ground: Building Honorable Leaders the West Point Way.”  He and Jason Morwick are also the authors of Making Telework Work (forthcoming, Davies-Black Publishing).

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