Effective business leaders don't stand still. They continually learn, looking for new and better ways to help their organization get ahead.
That's what makes paying close attention to leadership trends so important. By understanding how the world and business environments around you are shifting, you can prepare for changes that will impact everyone within your organization. Based on that information, you can shift your leadership style to better match your employees, corporate culture, and industry.
That means looking ahead. It means identifying exactly where the environment is moving, and making necessary adjustments. With that in mind, consider these 8 leadership trends that have emerged in 2018 and will continue to make an impact in future years.
1) The Increasing Importance of Mentorship
As new generations are entering the workforce, they bring with them new expectations on how organizations are run. One key trend among younger millennials and the emerging Generation Z is the importance they place on mentorship.
According to one study, 33% of Gen Z considers mentorship as the most important factor attracting them to an organization, second only to healthcare.
This generation wants to be nurtured, brought along by effective leaders who don't just make abstract decisions but help them in their daily lives. Studies continually show that when formal mentorship programs are implemented, trainees and new employees thrive.
2) "Lean" Goes Beyond Manufacturing
Lean manufacturing emerged in the 1980s as a manufacturing trend, but it's spread its wings since then. Today, it describes an approach to leadership that emphasizes simplicity, continuous marginal improvement, and a "relentless pursuit of perfection."
That approach, in turn, has become more significant than ever. In an era of tight budgets and shrinking resources, modern leaders need to find ways to eliminate wasteful processes and look for improvement wherever possible. Lean leadership also highlights a collaborative approach that involves members at all levels of the organization, further embracing the need for inclusion present within the modern workforce.
3) Embracing Moral and Social Responsibilities
Organizations are inherently political and social entities. Modern organizations need to have an identity, and that identity inherently informs the way its leaders communicate.
In the past two years, we've seen major companies take stands for issues like DACA, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Environment. Expect more of the same as employees and customers alike want to see their brands and leaders take a stance for the issues they care about most.
4) Learning as a Core Business Concept
Yes, you need to train new employees on their responsibilities, and continually update that training to build their skills. Modern learning approaches, though, go beyond that largely functional approach. In the process, learning has emerged as a core business concept.
More than 70% of your employees want to learn more. They need the onboarding, but they're also looking for insights into your corporate culture, and might even want to develop themselves personally and professionally through skills outside their common responsibilities. As learning opportunities continue to evolve, your chance as a leader is developing and prioritizing these opportunities for better long-term engagement and success.
5) Data-Driven Leadership Approaches
Over the past few years, leading organizations have moved from big data to smart data. New technologies and systems have enabled us to automate data prioritization, which means we're no longer required to sift through mountains of information that may or may not be relevant to decision-making.
These opportunities, however, bring significant responsibilities. Leaders no longer have an excuse to ignore the data as they make decisions. Paying attention to internal and external trends and predictions is vital in bringing the organization forward.
6) Shifting to a Customer-Centric Mindset
Chances are your organization already preaches a customer-focused approach. This trend is an embrace of that concept, emphasizing it further to ensure business survival and success. Research shows that customers are loyal to experiences, not individual brands.
An effective leader aims to create that experience in every customer touch point. From the first marketing effort to the final customer service touch, the messaging should be consistent, relevant, and powerful. Every decision at the leadership level needs to be made with the customer as the main stakeholder.
7) Embracing Employee Productivity Through Work-Life Balance
The days of long work days at the office with little rest should be coming to an end. Overworked employees disengage, and become less productive. That's why according to one study, 70% of global employees now work remotely at least one day every week.
Your workforce demands it. Work-life balance is top of mind for Generation Z and millennials alike. The work still needs to get done, but leaders are beginning to realize that it can be done more efficiently and successfully with an engaged, active workforce.
8) Taking an Active Role Against Sexual Harrassment
Last year saw the rise of #MeToo as a significant social and political movement. That, in turn, has had ripple effects on small and large organizations alike that are impossible to ignore. Leaders in 2018 and beyond have to take an active role in preventing sexual harassment and toxic workplaces.
Streamlining the ways in which employees can report harassment is an important start. So is a change in internal investigations that puts the focus on the incident, not the victim. Leadership by example is key, through promotion of and participation in continuing education on the topic throughout the organization.
The Link Between Leadership Trends and Effective Training
Leadership best practices are constantly moving to keep up with societal shifts. The above leadership trends have been emerging for a while, but are truly taking a foothold in 2018. To prepare for them, training and learning programs have to take an active role.
The right leadership training efforts can help you prepare for these trends, and turn theoretical best practices into active processes within your organization. Visit our website to learn more about our training capabilities, which can be customized, and designed to both build leadership foundations and excel in the field. Then, contact us to get started in accounting for and excelling in these trends.
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