Tomorrow’s leaders may need to abandon much of the thinking and behaviour that propelled them to the top of their organisations, and adopt a completely new leadership style if they are to meet the challenges facing them in the coming decades.
While today’s business environment is increasingly complex and requires leaders have broad range of skills and talents to match, the coming years will see our leaders face even more challenges at a cognitive, emotional and behavioural level.
Leaders need to adopt what is, in effect, a ‘post-heroic’ leadership style, and adapt their preference to lead by example in favour of collaborative approaches inside and outside the organisation. Additionally, they will need to develop a completely new combination of skills and qualities to adequately equip them for the unprecedented demands of the dramatically changing business climate.
This is the conclusion Hay Group has reached in its recent report entitled ‘Leadership 2030’ that identifies the six megatrends which will affect organisations and their leaders over the next two decades.
The key six global trends uncovered in the report were:
- Globalisation 2.0
- Climate change
- Demographic shifts
- Technological convergence
These shifting trends indicate that the next generation of leaders will have to be multilingual, flexible, internationally mobile and adaptable. But, most crucial of all, they must be highly collaborative and have strong conceptual and strategic thinking skills to find new ways to create loyalty among employees.
As globalisation accelerates, the new business world will be characterised by increasingly diverse teams and declining loyalty between organisations and employees. Companies will need to be more agile and collaborative to manage the global/local divide; their leaders will need to be flexible, internationally mobile and culturally sensitive, and they must have strong conceptual and strategic thinking capabilities in order to manage risk and cope with the dangers and uncertainties associated with globalisation.
The scarcity of strategic resources like water, minerals and fossil fuels could trigger price hikes and operational costs. Organisations will be forced to lower their eco-footprint, adapt to rising operational costs and restructure along sustainable lines. Leaders will need outstanding cognitive skills to balance the competing demands of financial success, social responsibility and environmental custodianship, and must act as change agents, advocating environmentally responsible business practices.
The aging population means demographic imbalances are rapidly emerging, leading to skills shortages. For organisations, this means the war for talent will continue to rage; leaders will need to attract, motivate and retain increasingly diverse teams and find ways to develop and promote the growing numbers of international migrants, women and older people into leadership positions.
Careers are an important part of people’s quest for self-expression. But their loyalty is more likely to be directed toward social networks than employers. These trends have a huge impact on how leaders and companies motivate people. Leaders will have to work harder at generating personal loyalty, through accommodating employees’ requirements, enabling self-directed ways of working and individualised leadership by developing relationships beyond the direct work environment.
Digital Lifestyle and Work
Technology will continue to blur the boundaries between private and work lives, will broaden generational divides, and will shift power to employees with extensive digital skills—particularly the rising class of “knowledge workers,” who can work anywhere. As organisations become increasingly virtual, leaders must recognise and harness the critical skills of digital natives, foster collaboration between them and traditional workers, and encourage high levels of openness, integrity and sincerity to build reputation in a more transparent world.
Ignore disruptive technologies at your peril. Despite their lack of detailed knowledge, leaders must be open to – and advocates of – visionary ideas. They must encourage innovation and collaboration and act as orchestrators of expertise from within and outside the organisation in order to harness the potential of converging technologies.