As advisors to organisations of all sizes, we are sometimes asked about the trends we see rippling through the corporate world. The truth is, it’s very much a mixed bag. We still see plenty of bad leadership clichés alive and well. However, there are others that really stand out for us here at BiteSize, because they resonate with our values.
Here are some trends we’ve seen impacting the workplace right now:
1. Multi-gen leaders
We currently have five generations in the workplace. It stretches from those growing up in the shadow of WW2 to this year’s school leavers. In fact, millennials – those born between 1981 and 1995 – will comprise 50% of the workforce next year. It is an unprecedented moment, bringing many different perspectives and expectations on leadership style, communication and work-life balance. Great leaders celebrate the diversity this brings to the workplace. They anticipate and respond to the needs and goals of everyone, not just the new kids on the block or the trusted old hands. However, this does mean that we need to adapt and flex to engage our teams like never before.
2. C-suite embracing L&D
Similarly, LinkedIn’s 50 big ideas for 2019 claims that CEOs will work hard to become more inclusive leaders…or leave. The pace of change and complex operating environments calls for a shift in outdated thinking. In this post, Carla Harris, Vice Chair and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley says: “We were primarily led by ‘my way or the highway’ type leaders and that does not work with this environment. I think you’re going to see more leaders looking for leadership development or guidance on how to be more collaborative, how to spur innovation, how to teach people how to fail and how to innovate.”
There’s an opportunity for L&D professionals to step up and step in.
3. Being resilient
A continuing trend we see at BiteSize is the need to recognise people’s ability to bounce back from stressful situations and maintain performance and preparedness. Such critical factors are important for business success. Training around resilience is multi-faceted. Changing mind-sets, managing in times of uncertainty, developing support systems and overcoming self-limiting beliefs are the watchwords in this sphere.
4. Collaborative leadership
Of course, we cannot talk about trends without mentioning the B-word. Even if our politicians are struggling to lead the country through Brexit, businesses cannot afford to let such uncertainty dominate. Collaboration is a word that’s been spinning round for a few years now. We want to revisit its power to transform teams, especially in today’s VUCA world. The silo culture should have died long ago. It is still clinging on across industries of all sizes. Collaboration is a fundamental human trait, one in which leaders must play their part by listening, learning and acting on others’ expertise as required.
5. Remote workers
Flexible working, attracting the right talent, cost-saving: it all amounts to a general move towards remote working. Heavily regulated industries like the financial services sector – burdened by compliance – are beginning to change too. According to tech lawyer Tomas Suros cloud-based technology and the demands of a younger workforce are forcing companies to reform in an effort to compete in the labour market. So how can leaders engage with this phenomenon without compromising the quality of the work? Managing, leading and inspiring remote teams will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.
Think about your online supermarket shop, your gift purchases and even your next streamed boxset – personalisation dominates so many factors in our lives, thanks to technology. There’s a plethora of online training platforms and programmes to suit, many of which will promise to personalise the provision on offer.
Of course, technology is a central component to this but personalised training also requires leaders to think more about their role as coach as manager. For example, by adopting just one of the many roles that we might play in our relationship with an employee. This might be teacher, advisor, monitor, director, briefer, captain, disciplinarian and emotional supporter.
7. Diversity and unconscious bias
Businesses are under huge pressure to become fairer places to work as society grows increasingly intolerant of inequality. Consequently, doing nothing is no longer an option. Many companies are grappling with these complex issues which are time-consuming and costly to unravel. However, there are ways in which leadership development can be a catalyst for change because of its link to changing behaviours.
In conclusion, those are the trends we think will most shape leadership over the next year. Tell us, are we missing something? And don’t forget we can help leaders with all of these of challenges through our tailored, bite-sized courses.