An important element of being an innovative leader is the ability to look out on the horizon, spot trends and integrate those trends into his/her personal understanding of the world, behavior, the culture of the company and the company systems and processes.
I have been working on an IT Attract and Retain Talent study for TechColumbus in Central Ohio. While unemployment is still relative high in our region, there are many jobs open in IT and the rate is growing. During this study, one trend that emerged as interesting to me is the change in what work looks like for many people. While we have read about the trend of more people being self-employed or freelancers, this recent recession is making this trend an increasing reality very quickly.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 2011: “Freelance jobs: Half of all new jobs in recovery? Freelance jobs are up 52 percent at Elance. The number of entrepreneurs are at a 15-year high. But the growth in freelance jobs means less security for the workforce.
As America’s jobs recovery begins to take hold, one sector is growing faster than ever: freelancing. There’s reason to celebrate. Many Americans are bypassing the corporate ladder to strike out on their own – doing everything from graphic design to iPhone programming. But there’s also reason to worry. Others are becoming entrepreneurs by necessity, forced to take freelance jobs because they cannot find regular jobs. Desperation, rather than inspiration, seems to be the major force behind the trend. And the surge isn’t over.”
What is a response of an innovative leader to this trend? I suggest the first response is to think about what it means in four different basic dimensions that impact our personal and professional success:
- What does the high level of freelance workers mean for me? Do I have a secure job? For how long? What do I believe about this trend?
- Given what I am seeing in the marketplace, what should I do personally to respond? Am I taking all of the appropriate steps to manage my career proactively?
- How does the change in workforce align with our company culture? Do we hire freelance workers? Do we create an environment that supports them adding optimal value to the company?
- Are the company systems set up to leverage this freelance workforce to improve our market position? Are we easy for the most talented or hard to find workers to work with?
To address #1 and 2 above, I want to reference a wonderful book by Janine Moon, a friend and the author of: Career Ownership – Creating Job Security in Any Economy. She provides a discreet set of tools available that will help you:
- Define your best work direction
- Examine your mindset for sabotage
- Map and create your own job security
- Approach potential mentors and make it easy for them to say yes
- Gain the confidence to move from “renting” to “owning” your career
What are you doing to look across the horizon at the trends and create your own personal security?