Accenture Exec Shares the Three Trends Enabling the Digital Workforce of the Future

By Dave Hendrick

Success for employees in the digital workplace of the future will require a suite of new skillsets and an agile, adaptable outlook.

Similarly, for leaders of digital enterprises, whether rapidly evolving multinationals like Unilever or digital-native startups like Airbnb, the future workplace will require a new kind of leadership. Effective leaders will need to focus on empowering workers at all levels of a less hierarchical workplace by building energy around a culture of shared, core values, according to Dr. Claudy Jules, managing director of Accenture Strategy’s talent and organization practice and head of the firm’s global leadership consulting capability.

Jules, speaking at a Leadership Speaker Series event at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, said that while classic leadership tasks involving guiding, rewarding and motivating people will continue, they will do so against a rapidly changing background, as new technologies such as artificial intelligence disrupt and remake existing workplace practices and capabilities.

Jules noted, for instance, that machines will play a role on leadership teams, allowing teams to be far more agile and use simulations and decision scenarios to conduct rapid, low-risk trials.

According to Jules, the key trends in the digital workplace of the near future are:

  • Networks connect, as leaders succeed or fail based on how well they can live in — and orchestrate — their network in and out of work.
  • Talent fragments, as dynamic talent avails itself to a global talent marketplace eager for their skills.
  • Organizations open, and embrace transparency, knowing that the “currency for high performance is digital trust.”

With those megatrends in the backdrop, Jules said they can translate into leadership development in the new workplace focused on “three I’s” — intrapraneurship, improvisation and integrity.

Intrapreneurship creates an environment where employees can pursue innovative business offerings to address meaningful issues. Through the creation of an environment where workers can learn and experiment to adapt rapidly, those who have “mastered convention” will have the room to improvise. And integrity involves engaging others through shared purpose, especially in service of bettering organizations.

Asked how future leaders should think about leadership traits they could put into practice immediately, Jules said students could practice their intellectual openness and flexibility.

“Be comfortable with learning new things,” said Jules. “The ability to learn and be open to learning —but also to be coached — is an incredibly important thing moving forward.”

Fortune 500, consulting
About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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