These predictions have been collectively authored by Forum’s leadership team and subject matter experts:
Cindy Stuckey, Managing Director APAC; Graham Scrivener, Managing Director EMEA; Ellen Foley, Executive Consultant; David Robertson, Executive Consultant; Tom Rose, Executive Consultant, Viv Price, Executive Consultant; Nithya Ramaswamy, Design Consultant; Claudette Chagnon, Design Consultant; Ana Bedard, Design Consultant; Mark Edwards, ResNet and Simon Fowler, Learning Technologist.
1. Widening of Key Skill Gaps
Based on economic growth, skill requirement gaps will create challenges for organisations globally. Productivity pressures, higher growth and client retention/penetration, innovation of new product/services with more complexity and the expansion in new markets, as well as, increase of market share with many new competitors will be economic challenges companies will experience. Thus, diverse sets of skills will be needed to respond to these fast changing market conditions. Organisations and individuals will need to constantly modify and develop new skills in their leaders or the skill gap will widen. This gap has been widening the past three years and we predict this will continue.
Effective businesses will devote time, energy and resources to develop their people and the organisations in which they perform. Optimising investments in people and organisational development means integrating the development of leadership skills along with the development of organisational practices that promote and reinforce the use of these skills in organisations.
2. Content Shifts from Classroom to Cubicle
Organisations that implement leadership development that tightly aligns with organisational development will get the greatest value for their investment—particularly as the traditional training composition of leadership development evolves. Face-to-face learning, while still vital, will be a premium and focus on delivering impactful experiences and only reference high level content or frameworks. Much content traditionally delivered in the classroom will be moved to the “Align” and ”Sustain” phases and be delivered virtually and on demand. Simulations will be integrated across the learning blend as they become more sophisticated and cost effective. Learning and development happens at work, which highlights the need to sustain and embed learning into everyday work life making learning quick bites, peer learning, online communities of practice, learning labs and other practical approaches even more important in leadership development going forward. Not only training, but ongoing coaching will be essential to maintain high engagement and intellectual stimulation of the workforce and provide leaders with the skills they need to succeed.
3. Employee Engagement Becoming a Business Imperative
Organisations have been attempting to address engagement at micro and macro level for years. They invest in executing engagement surveys and monitor scores; however, overall little changes in engagement occurred in the past few years. Organisations which find ways to executive strategies at a business unit level and develop their leaders to drive engagement are the ones who will experience the highest level of business performance. It will become a requirement to drive the organisation, business unit and leader level tactics to drive improved engagement.
Engagement will need to become a business imperative, driven at all levels of the organisation and integrated with all business plans. Additionally, organisations must provide solid career paths for people, have the right rewards and recognition programs in place, solid feedback and performance systems along with measurement.
4. Shortage of Talent
The talent shortage that exists today will increase and become one of the most critical factors that will keep CEOs up at night. To address the talent shortage, career paths that address the needs of the local market for excelled movement will need to be established, compensation will need to continue to evolve and become more complete – benefits like flexible time and working arrangements will need to be added, salaries will need to continue to rise even when productivity is not rising, development of internal talent with the required skills will need to occur and organisations will need to develop strong talent retention strategies to deal with the storage.
With new technologies, competitors, innovative products, changing customer needs/expectations, growth occurring in emerging and developing markets vs. mature markets and regulatory changes on a consistent basis having leaders at all levels will require global capabilities. Predictive analytics will become the norm and organisations will be able reduce to turnover, improve talent forecasting needs, help inform competency requirements for the future, highlight who can be a high performer, reward ideas etc. This predictive data will inform talent strategies and help reduce the risk of talent shortages.
5. The Impact of Technologies
Leaders will access content and coaching through apps which will be regularly updated. Content will be multi-level and can be searched so the leader can work with frameworks, activities, videos, coaching guides and choose their level of detail etc. VILT and e-learning programmes will be the norm as platform bandwidth, capability and flexibility increases, costs reduce and more effective collaboration tools come on line. Every leadership toolkit will include the ability to capture videos of the learners experience and feedback and short ‘how to’ videos to demonstrate the right behaviours in action. Push and pull sustainment tools and virtual coaching will support individual practice and workplace application.
Organisations that develop creative ways to develop people in today’s time-compressed and global business environment will make big contributions to organisational success. While eLearning technology is a low cost way of deploying information, the challenge of translating knowledge into performance lies beyond the scope of current eLearning capabilities. Technology solutions that help people enhance their ability to apply new ideas to work will transform industry.
6. The Performance Management Revolution
Performance planning systems will evolve and the potential of no longer having employee’s evaluate themselves, eliminating the year-end review as we know it today and replacing it with quarterly assessments, and/or feedback submitted by peers at the conclusion of many projects or working assignments, along new rating systems using top box or other rating systems will be introduced and finally forced rankings will be replaced with a more strategic long and short term talent planning system.
The system will also change how development planning for individuals will occur and be managed. In fact the revolution will take performance management and integrate it into the overall system that will include coaching, career development, feedback on regular basis that is focused on the development of individual, recognition and capability development. While organisations have been attempting to integrate these various elements into a system, the next step is to optimise these management components into a system to get the most from your talent and to prepare your talent pro-actively.
7. The Rise of Self-Leadership
In the not so distant future everyone will be a specialist – guided by their own experience, preferences, expertise and passions. Self-leadership will be more important; leaders will create their own journey and be more self-directed and intentional in work choices. Individuals will actively contract across different groups, teams and even organisations as required, finding meaningful work rather than waiting for work to come to them. Leaders will need a strong virtual presence / profile and use it to promote themselves across their networks around what they are doing / have done and what they are looking for next. Individuals will own and manage their own ‘leadership profiles’ that showcase their experience, interests, availability and peer feedback. Leaders will use their profiles as a passport to attract and gain access to relevant project work. Then update their profiles to capture their experience.
8. Change of the Hierarchy
Project based organisational structures will start to replace hierarchies and project teams will select individual resources to join their teams as required based on their capability, availability and expertise. Some project roles may be developmental and some may be operational or leadership focused based on the needs of the team. Organisations will need to support this fundamental change to the hierarchical structure and ensure that collaboration is supported, measured and incentivised as well as the outcomes. Everyone can be a leader depending on the needs of the project team and so everyone will need fundamental leadership skills.
Within project teams, leaders will be appointed by the team and be process focused rather than line focused. Anyone could be a leader or a coach depending on the needs of the project team and it is expected that during the life of a project there could be a number of process leaders active at any one time. Roles will be dynamic, based on the need of the team. Individuals may work across a number of projects and in some they may have a leadership function and in others be a subject matter expert or process support, all depends on the needs for each team. Leaders will need to be agile and adaptable to allow them to flex their roles.
9. Growth through Collaboration
There will be a stronger focus on building leadership communities within organisations that are self-moderated and self-sustaining. Fundamental skill areas for all potential leaders would be collaboration, agility, adaptability, innovation, change, cross-cultural acumen and team-working. The business may also need to have a strong values system that has collaboration embedded at the core. Leaders will need to master these fundamentals and live the values, whether they are an individual contributor, a team member or a leader. More companies will use effective collaboration sites to organise their learning communities, showcase their curriculum and pathways and capture metrics and curate best practice.
Increased focus will be on organisational transformation at all levels. One of the main areas of focus will be language and credibility, empowering leaders to take the key transformational message and ‘make it their own’, adding context, meaning and ownership at their own team level. Working with middle and frontline managers to train and equip them to be the change agents of the future will see more transformation projects succeed.
Research and experience tell us that clarity and focus will accelerate strategic initiatives and promote their ultimate success. Yet, navigating the complex inter-connectedness of today’s global business environment requires that we also live with the opposite of clarity, ambiguity. Organisations that figure out how to balance clarity with ambiguity will have a winning formula that leaders can use to drive results.
10. The Evolution of Female Leadership
Women taking on leadership positions are becoming an emerging trend in many countries and organisations. Looking at the most extraordinary female leaders in the world, they are all authentic leaders in their own right and aren’t afraid to think innovatively or lead differently, yet female leaders continue to be pigeon-holed despite their leadership abilities and potential. Female leaders, despite their capabilities and leadership strengths, are sometimes labelled with varying notions of polarity – weak vs. tough, emotional vs ruthless, masculine vs feminine, and the list goes on.
The future of female leadership holds the promotion of diversity and enablement in order to realise its potential by providing development scaffolds through their leadership journey, such as mentorship schemes and impactful leadership development programmes. The definition of leadership where leaders are not titles or roles waiting to be assumed but an ongoing journey of discovery where one is continuously learning by doing and reflecting, is the approach that will emerge to increase the pipeline of female leaders in the years to come. Women in the workplace, aspiring to become leaders will need to take charge of their development, understand how to establish credibility, what the common stereotypes are and how to avoid falling into potential role traps by leading with confidence, adaptability and courage.