Learn, unlearn, relearn (Part 2): A new world order and an ethical imperative

Forget chasing the points or beefing up your CV. Lifelong learning is now a requirement for executives and thinking professionals marching confidently into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Executives revealed to Kate Ferreira.

As we all should know by now, digital transformation is altering (and has already completely altered) the world of work. Skills for those entering the workforce and those leading it will have to be adjusted accordingly. Sharmla Chetty is the president of global markets for Duke Corporate Education. They have done extensive research into how technology has shifted the landscape. For example, Professor John Graham at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business has been doing a fascinating quarterly survey of global CFOs for many years – 93 consecutive quarters, in fact.  

Sharmla is optimistic about the future tech-enabled workplace, saying “the future of work is going to be informed in large part by the number of jobs gained, not lost”. Yes, she says, technology “will assume certain types of roles performed by humans” but those tend to be the rote ones. With this in mind, she says, business leaders must help people “prepare for change in a constructive and engaging way, and not through fear”. 

“We need to enable human beings to work with technological developments to achieve great things. As Dr Hanson, the creator of Sophia the Robot, noted at our Davos of Human Capital conference, humans created robots, not vice versa. We humans control the narrative.”

Sharmla believes that personal development and training should support leaders in developing their emotional intelligence (EQ) in conjunction with their IQ. But there is a third element that Duke calls DQ – which stands for decency quotient. “It means that a leader has the genuine desire to do the right thing for employees, colleagues and society at large.”

This ethical leadership would apply to your workspaces, but also the larger environment. “If we don’t take care of our environment, our workplaces will look completely differently, if they exist at all,” she cautions. 

From job displacements, to income disparities, and environmental concerns: “We all need to be proactive and debate these issues at every level in our society, from government to business. We are the only species that can imagine structures to control how we interact among ourselves. We have the power to determine how we wish to operate in this new future.” Any executive learning and development then must be centred around this.