Leadership trends help us focus on better leadership development, so understanding them enables organisations to prioritise investment in the right leadership qualities and talent management. Leadership development is still a hot topic: ‘bad’ leadership may be under the spotlight at the moment, but the demand for transformational leadership continues. Leaders and managers need to receive better, and more constructive feedback. It’s important to understand the leadership qualities and, as a result, the practical skills people need to be successful in this environment.
At a recent International Leadership Association Conference, one of the keynote speakers talked about the “four global revolutions”: leadership trends in IT, Energy, Manufacturing and Life Sciences. It’s now clear how these affect our lives more generally, but let’s focus on how they affect leadership development and talent management, as global and individual trends.
Global leadership trends
- Economic constraints are here to stay. Whatever the economy does, HR is focused on staff retention, motivation and engagement. In particular, this minimises turnover and recruitment costs. It makes economic sense to develop home-grown talent, rather than invest in risky and expensive external hires.
- Recruitment is global and social. Companies now spread their search nets further, creating upward pressures on costs. Recruitment using social tools is widespread. Better information about potential candidates, new talent pools and peoples’ skills and experience is now more available.
- HR technologies are embedded. It means that L&D budgets have a new focus. Whether it’s a Learning Management System (LMS), recruitment software or systems to track leadership development, it’s now essential to invest in HR technology.
- Flexible working: the new normal. Employees expect the offer of homeworking, flexi-time and job-sharing opportunities. As a result, managers are typically in charge of remote workforces and technology requirements for ‘cloud-based’ software has increased.
- Talent management is vital to organisational success. Talent management analytics, processes and systems are integral to leadership development. As a result, they improve organisational sustainability too. New technologies (like the my360plus online feedback tool) enable organisations to deliver tailored career paths, identify skills gaps, and develop people accordingly.
Individual leadership trends
Let’s look at the other side of the equation in the leadership trends debate – the employee perspective. Put simply, today’s technological environment increases people power.
- Employees are the new leaders. Whether by design or otherwise, the major change is the shift from institutional control to individual control. Employees are better-educated, empowered, technical experts. Top down structures are out of date. Team members expect managers to listen to them and acknowledge their contributions; it increases their fulfilment and engagement. It’s a new kind of leadership and probably the most under-recognised leadership trend.
- Workplace conversations are more transparent. With social media in our daily lives, people air ideas, feedback and opinions freely. Workforce equality, fairness and diversity conversations are just the tip of the iceberg.
- Career change is here to stay. Jobs for life have disappeared and people can expect to change career several times during their (longer) working lives. Turnover rates rise as employees can easily scan the job market. Good employees are headhunted. The pressure is on for companies to increase development and job opportunities, and improve engagement.
- People expect regular feedback. Feedback is no longer just the annual performance review. It’s also two-way. The benefits in improved performance are clear. Managers need to to have regular, on-going, dialogue with their teams. However, they also need the right skills to deliver this type of constructive feedback.
- Demand for social learning is increasing. New generation employees prefer to learn from and with others via social and virtual learning platforms. Group and 1-1 coaching, action learning and social feedback are all in demand, because they meet this need. Thanks to new technologies individual Elearning is easy and affordable. People learn at their own pace and turn up to in-person development sessions ready to apply new ideas.
Conclusion: leadership trends
It’s important to recognise the global and individual leadership trends that affect organisations. It means that leadership development and talent management strategies needs a different kind of investment, so that organisations can be more successful, leaders and managers can be more effective, and employees can be more fulfilled in their work. The workplace revolution is global and affects the way we learn and the way L&D functions develop their talent.