The pace of change in business is dramatically faster than it has been in previous eras. Megatrend advances in the fields of technology and communication have dramatically impacted the way firms conduct business. Top executives in firms today report hyper-competitive business environments and more globalized patterns of operations than ever before. Technological advances continue to dramatically impact both communication infrastructures and as well as the strategic business decisions executives make in terms of trade, resources and competition. Given this, leaders of the future will need to be savvy conceptual and strategic thinkers, possess deep integrity and intellectual openness, find innovative ways to create loyalty, lead increasingly diverse and independent teams over which they may not always have direct authority, and have the maturity to relinquish their own power in favor of creating and fostering collaborative approaches inside and outside the organization.
To successfully develop this combination of “inner-core” and “outer-core” capability, the leaders of the future will likely need to “shift” and strengthen much of the thinking and behavior that propelled them to the top of their organizations in the first place. According to the Hay Group’s Leadership 2030 Research Study, if leaders want their organizations to survive and thrive in the next twenty years they have no choice but to dramatically “shift” and strengthen how they lead. If they, themselves, want to survive and thrive, they must change how they lead. To survive the future, leaders must possess the capability to help their organizations win the race of innovation, global presence, and talent.
In their breakthrough study, the Hay Group identified six megatrends that will affect organizations and their leaders profoundly over the coming decades: Globalization; Scarcity of Resources; Demographic Changes; Growing “Freedom of Choice”; Digital Age; and Harnessing Technology. I have identified below, a few of the trends that I believe will have a dramatic impact on you—the current and emerging leader—as you strive to become the absolute best leader you can be. My sincere hope, desire and passion is that you continue to sharpen your “inner-core” and “outer-core” so you recognize and embrace these challenging trends as real opportunities—pathways to unlocking and unleashing the massive capability you possess and pathways to true leadership greatness.
As I meet and coach executives, I hear a lot from them about how they view change within their organizations. Most are quick to point out that the challenges their own organization faces now are much more complex than they were five years ago. When I ask them, “Why do you think this is true”? They talk about constant changes “internal” to their organization such as structure and process changes as well as a myriad of external challenges such as market volatility, talent shortages, globalization, competition, technology, cost and profitability pressure, and rising customer expectations.
Innovation. Everywhere I turn, every leader I talk to, is searching for the next big idea. This imperative, drives pressure and challenge for all leaders and future leaders because now they must lead and participate on task forces, cross-functional teams, and participate in “off-site” innovation training programs. The need to excel as a collaborator and mediator is no longer a “nice to have” it is a “must have” capability. I have learned that in most organizations, most leaders and future leaders are involved in multiple “innovation” projects that involve searching for and implementing new products as well as processes such as talent development initiatives, reward and recognition programs, and benchmarking projects.
It’s a Virtual World
With increased globalization, my clients have to efficiently and effectively bridge geographical, cultural, and functional boundaries. I truly believe that being effective as a “virtual” leader is different than being effective as a “face-to-face” leader. The skills of communication are critical. Possessing the capability to engage in clear, consistent, and frequent communication using a variety of collaborative technologies will continue to be important skills for all leaders and future leaders. Of course, firmly embedded in the skill of effective communication, are the “inner-core” elements of character, honesty and integrity.
It’s a Velcro World
Great leaders possess the ability to “velcro” their people and teams to their mission, vision and strategies. This will continue to be a challenge as people’s careers play an increasingly important role in their quest for self-fulfillment. Generation X and Y people crave greater convergence between their personal and professional lives. They demand recognition, self-development opportunities, work-life balance and more than anything they want to be engaged in their work and careers. I believe that leaders and future leaders, given changing demographics, will need to be diligent and passionate about generating personal loyalty with their people by truly building relationships with their people based upon rapport, trust and credibility. Clearly, leaders who have a strong “inner-core” and “outer-core, will possess the capability to “velcro” their people and teams to them and the vision, mission and direction they must communicate and execute on.