Six key global trends impacting leadership

“Shifting trends indicate that the next generation of leaders will need to be adept conceptual and strategic thinkers, have deep integrity and intellectual openness, and find new ways to create loyalty among employees,” said Wendy Montague, head of leadership and talent practice, at Hay Group Australia. “Managers will need to relinquish their own power in favour of collaborative approaches, both inside and outside their organisations. In some cases, this will mean abandoning many of the behaviours that propelled leaders to the top of their organisations in the first place.”

The report, Leadership 2030, examines six global trends – globalisation 2.0; climate change; demographic shifts; digitisation; individualisation; and technological convergence – and their impact on leadership and organisations. Hay Group’s findings on four of these major shifts, and the ways they are changing the competencies required of successful leaders, include:

1. Globalisation 2.0: As globalisation accelerates, the new business world will be characterised by increasingly diverse teams and declining loyalty between organisations and employees. The balance of power will shift to Asia, global middle class will rise, and greater inter-connectedness will result in greater volatility in economic markets.

Leadership Impact: Companies will need to be more agile and collaborative to manage the global/local divide; their leaders will need to be flexible, internationally mobile and culturally sensitive, and they must have strong conceptual and strategic thinking capabilities in order to manage risk and cope with the dangers and uncertainties associated with globalisation.

2. Climate Change: Rising emissions and temperatures will be further aggravated by growing residential and industrial waste in developing nations. The scarcity of strategic resources like water, minerals and fossil fuels could trigger price hikes and violent conflict.

Leadership Impact: Organisations will be forced to lower their eco-footprint, adapt to rising operational costs and restructure along sustainable lines; leaders will need outstanding cognitive skills to balance the competing demands of financial success, social responsibility and environmental custodianship, and must act as change agents, advocating environmentally responsible business practices.

3. Demographic Shifts: As the world population grows and ages, demographic imbalances are emerging, leading to skills shortages in some areas and increasing migration.

Leadership Impact: For organisations, fewer people means the war for talent will continue to rage; leaders will need to attract, motivate and retain increasingly diverse teams and find ways to develop and promote the growing numbers of international migrants, women and older people into leadership positions.

4. Digital Lifestyle and Work: Technology will continue to blur the boundaries between private and work lives, will broaden generational divides, and will shift power to employees with extensive digital skills – particularly the rising class of “knowledge workers,” who can work anywhere.

Leadership Impact: As organisations become increasingly virtual, leaders must recognise and harness the critical skills of digital natives, foster collaboration between them and traditional workers, and encourage high levels of openness, integrity and sincerity to build reputation in more transparent world.

“These trends are not only transforming our businesses, governments and societies, they are significantly impacting the characteristics we will associate with successful leadership in the decades ahead,” says Montague. “To thrive in the future, leaders will have to become more nimble and adaptable, guiding organisations to revolutionise their cultures, structures, systems and p

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