In today’s ever-changing times, leaders are called to be much more than a figurehead. They must be able to navigate a growing number of technology and tools – which is getting more complex by the day. To achieve this, there are certain skills that great manufacturing leaders have developed. From soft skills like empathy to hard skills like data analysis, this article explores the attributes that make a great manufacturing leader:
Digital and data analysis
Every day brings new technology for companies to get-to-grips with. This requires a tech-savvy leader who can unpick the various tools and find the most valuable for their organisation. They must have enough understanding to know what to invest in and how different tools will improve the bottom-line. Great leaders can identify opportunities and adapt their businesses constantly to technological change. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such example in manufacturing, with developing applications for supply chain management, workshop mirroring and self-dependent systems.
Knowing when to delegate
Good leaders also understand that they don’t know it all. When their knowledge is limited, they are humble enough to delegate to more experienced colleagues, A CEO cannot be expected to know the nitty-gritty details of a data warehouse. Instead, they would usually turn to their Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for advice. On top of that they understand that developing talent may have that great innovative idea that could catapult the business to the next level, and never discriminate based on experience.
Getting the best of both
Industry 4.0 might be characterised by automation and artificial intelligence (AI), but it also needs human input. Automation and robotics might replace some workers, but others will need to oversee the systems and build strategy. A great manufacturing leader will know how to get the best out of humans and technology.
That involves a degree of empathy and being a ‘people person’. Whereas traditionally there may have been strict hierarchal structures, these are being broken down because of technology. Leaders who understand and invest in their people will get ahead, as well as taking onboard their ideas and offloading responsibility, trust and responsibility to them in the process.
A commitment to learning
Technology will rapidly change manufacturing, and leaders will constantly have to adapt and keep up. Lifelong learning will become more important, for leaders and their workforces. Constantly developing new skills will help workers and leaders remain hireable post-automation. It will help leaders take advantage of new developments and be in-the-know about emerging trends like mixed reality.
A clear vision
Having a clear vision that’s communicated to the rest of the organisation will help everyone navigate shifting times. Leaders who can capitalise on ways to make their future vision a reality will find technology that adds value to the bottom-line. They will help their organisation become a market leader and inspire their team to innovate.
Purpose and social responsibility
There is more pressure for leaders in all sectors, including manufacturing, to take a stand on societal issues like climate change. 76 per cent of the public want CEOs to take the lead on change before governments impose it. Effective leaders will have an understanding of key societal issues and how they, and their organisations, can have a positive impact.
The Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation is one of Europe’s largest philanthropic organisations and is associated with Bosch. It focuses on promoting peace, integration, inclusion and dialogue through a range of initiatives. It backs schools, runs hospitals and healthcare museums, and does research in sustainable tools and practices. Furthermore, Bosch invests 50 per cent of its research and development budget into environmental protection and conservation technology.
Time to develop
It will take some time to develop all the skills required to lead in a technology-saturated world. For today’s leaders, the challenge is steep but the pay-off will be worth it. By understanding technology, meeting the public’s expectations and connecting with their workforces, leaders can help usher in a greater tomorrow.
Need some help with hiring the next great leader in your manufacturing or engineering company? Contact Theo James Recruitment for specialist recruiters in your industry.