The pandemic and the unpredictable external environment have led to a huge transformation in the business landscape over the last couple of years. With businesses across industries forced to revisit their strategies and business models, leadership has also witnessed a sea of change as businesses fought hard to survive or scale up. Leaders also had no option but to alter their leadership style as remote working became a reality in a matter of days and leaders were faced with an uphill task of keeping them teams motivated and aligned to the organization’s goals.
Leadership of the future will be a lot different from what it is today. With technology set to take centrestage across businesses and remote/dispersed workforce expected to be a norm, the future leaders will need to do a lot of catch-up and stay impactful. They will be expected to have a new arsenal of skills and mindsets so as to be successful in leading businesses in the next decade. Also, they will need to adapt well to the evolving times and be more humane in their approach. The future could see a number of unexpected events unfold. Hence, leaders will be expected to be more hands-on in their approach, ready to take calculative risks and invest a lot more in building a cohesive team. Additionally, the alpha male leadership style that has now become obsolete will give way to a more collaborative leadership style where leaders are open to constructive feedback.
Trends and how they will impact the future leadership
There will be set of trends that will play a pivotal role in defining leadership of the future. Let’s take a look at some of these:
Artificial Intelligence (AI): There is no way one can negate that technology will play a key role across businesses over the coming years. AI has already started playing a key role in the way companies reach out to their target customers, or in the way they hire. Artificial intelligence has the power to completely transform how businesses operate and people work. However, it is important for leaders to assuage the fears around AI and leverage it to enable employees and help them deliver better results.
Brand purpose: The era of fancy pay packages to get talent or that star-studded ATL campaign to accelerate sales is over. Today, the customers as well as prospective employees would prefer to associate with a brand that has a clear purpose and committed to work for the larger good. It becomes imperative for leaders to better understand their jobs, help their team members to synchronize their efforts to the brand purpose and be brand custodians in the true sense.
Pace of change: If the last few years are taken as a baseline, the future will not be immune to disruptions. A good leader will be one who has a cool temperament and is able to accept and adapt to change quickly. Leaders who are resistant to change, not willing to take quick decisions or are wary of the unpredictable will find it difficult to make a mark in the future. Leaders with skills like agility, resilience, adaptability, and comfort in challenging the status quo will be the ones who will shine out
Global citizen: Dispersed and global teams are already becoming common, especially amongst MNCs. The future will be more about a connected world, as technology will bring people closer. With the rise of technology, businesses, irrespective of their base location, will have the power to reach out to and attract customers across geographies. The future leaders will need to adapt to this and embrace globalization. They would be expected to be global citizens with an in-depth understanding of cultural nuances across geographies. Also, they would need to connect and collaborate with professionals across locations and hence, would have to hone their skills around global communications across cultural and language barriers.
Ethics and Transparency: The future belongs to authentic and humble leaders, who are ethical and transparent. Honesty and humility will emerge as the top skills for leaders in the future. Also, leaders will need to have their own moral compasses and a strong sense of their personal beliefs. Leaders who take a stand will be valued and respected. Also, to effectively lead, leaders would need to walk the talk
Soft skills will be table stakes: Future leaders will need to excel in soft skills. They would need to be inspiring, engaging and motivated. They would have to earn and not demand respect. Also, emotional intelligence will be the key, as leaders will be expected to better listeners as well as mentors, along with better communicators.
To sum it up, the future belongs to the humble, transparent leaders who believe in building a cohesive team. Future leaders will need to be a lot more human in their approach. Also, they would be expected to be agile, resilient, and willing to take any failure as learning. The leaders of tomorrow will have to be high on overall purpose (and not merely seen as just doing a specific job for the paycheck that hits their account at the end of every month) so as to inspire their team. The control freak leader will have to give way to the understanding leader with a problem –solving, cool temperament leader- someone who makes the most difficult of situations look solvable. Leaders of the future will have to think on their feet, will be open to take feedback and have the knack to connect and inspire a whole bunch of professionals, including the ones who don’t work with them every day.
This column has been shared as part of the Global Alliance Education and Training Month – 2022
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