6 trends impacting the future of leadership
— January 13th, 2020
Will today’s leaders be different from leaders of tomorrow? It’s a question I posed to more than 140 CEOs around the world as part of the research for my new book, The Future Leader.
I received a variety of responses, but the most common answer was the idea that although the world and channels may change, core leadership principles stay the same.
Those core values may be constant, but the world is changing at a rapid pace. Leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I also asked the CEOs about trends they see facing future leaders. In order to succeed in the future, leaders need to be prepared for these six trends that will impact their leadership and their organizations.
Artificial Intelligence and Technology
AI and new technology was far and away the most common answer I received regarding trends for future leaders. And it’s no secret why—AI has grown dramatically in recent years.
New developments are coming out almost daily with expanded applications and new technology. These developments are drastically changing how we live and work.
New technology has the power to automate many repetitive tasks within organizations, but it comes with the risk of replacing humans.
Future leaders need to look for the most strategic applications of automation and AI while keeping their employees calm and upskilling them for new responsibilities that capitalize on their human qualities.
Pace of Change
Change is a constant, but the speed at which it occurs is getting faster and faster. Today’s change comes from technology, globalization, demographics, industry disruption, geopolitical issues, and a number of other factors.
We’ll see more change in the coming decade than people likely saw in the 100 years prior. It’s up to leaders to navigate those changes and look around the corner to prepare for a future that doesn’t yet exist. Future leaders need to make experimentation part of their routine and be comfortable challenging the status quo. They can’t just follow what’s always been done but instead have to make their own path.
Purpose and Meaning
Today’s employees want more than just a paycheck or some nice perks at work. They want to work for an organization that can provide purpose and meaning. Purpose is why a person does what they do and relates to the impact of their work. Meaning is the feeling employees and organizations get from doing something greater than themselves.
It doesn’t matter the industry—every organization can provide purpose and meaning, and every employee should be able to see the impact of their work. Future leaders need to identify their own purpose and meaning and then get to know employees individually to learn what motivates them.
New Talent Landscape
The workforce will look very different over the next few years as a wave of older employees retire and younger people start to work. Those shifting demographics, along with the pace of change, are creating a talent shortage where companies often find themselves without enough skilled or experienced employees.
The new talent landscape requires leaders and organizations to invest in upskilling employees to provide them the skills they need.
The workforce will also become more diverse, which means leaders need to champion inclusivity and strive to create diverse teams with unique backgrounds and perspectives.
Morality, Ethics, and Transparency
Leaders of the future will be in a glass box more than ever before. A push for transparency means their every move, both personal and professional, can be critiqued. That provides opportunities for ethical leaders to shine, but it can also put a strain on an already stressful position.
Employees and customers want to work for and do business with leaders with a strong moral compass. Future leaders must be transparent and follow ethical guidelines, while encouraging others to do the same.
They must also take a stand and be willing to fight for a cause.
With new technology and communication, the world has never been smaller. Every company is now a global company with the potential to have employees and customers all over the world. Geopolitical issues on the other side of the world can now impact every organization. To succeed in this global world, future leaders need to appreciate diversity and understand cultural practices.
They need to have experience working in other areas of the world and be open to new ideas. Future leaders will need to pay attention to what is happening across the globe and view foreign ideas and cultures as opportunities to learn and grow instead of things to fear.
These six trends will define the future of leadership. To be successful in the next decade and beyond, leaders need to be aware of these trends and adjust their leadership approach while still holding true to the core principles of leadership.