In their new study on Leadership 2030, the Hay Group has identified six megatrends they believe will shape the future of leadership:

  • Individualization
  • Demographic Change
  • Digital Lifestyle
  • Globalization 2.0
  • Technology Convergence
  • Climate Change

Individuals, they believe, are looking for fulfillment and self-expression in their careers, increasing the importance of recognition, self-development, work life balance, and values-driven engagement. The role of the leader in such a future is more than providing “pay and promotion,” it’s balancing the roles of “boss, mediator, and coach.” Treating employees as numerous cogs in a machine leaves productivity, service, and innovation on the table, three things no organization can afford to lose.

This trend is not new, but it is becoming more apparent as traditional leadership hierarchies are breaking down and organizations are forced to find new ways of engaging their workforces. Just as research and common sense tells us, higher levels of engagement and enablement lead to higher levels of business performance.  (Need your own proof? Eat at a restaurant where the servers clearly hate their jobs then judge how your steak tastes, if it shows up.)

As leaders, what can we do? Management skills, like setting clear expectations and holding people accountable, will still be important in 2030, maybe even more so given the increasing levels of complexity and ambiguity in our workplaces. Coaching skills—like asking questions, listening, and helping employees develop their potential—are increasingly the difference between a disengaged employee and an engaged one. Ultimately, our effectiveness as leaders will be determined by our relationships—are they strong, trusting, authentic, and honest, or are they transactional?  (Anyone can buy a mediocre steak.  But a phenomenal steak?  That takes passion and commitment.)

While the Hay study focuses on 2030, one can argue that our organizations are already hip deep in the middle of these changes. Our best leaders already seek that just right place between boss, mediator, and coach; and their employees see them as more than a paycheck and a promotion.

How about you?  Are you creating values-driven engagement, or are you serving your customers overcooked steaks?

Read more about Hay’s Leadership 2030 here.


Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

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