Leadership Trends: 2020 and Beyond

The environment in which organizations do business has changed, and it continues to change with increasing rapidity. This means that leaders themselves must possess a different and much wider set of skills than in the past—with a far greater emphasis on adaptivity and the ability to embrace, understand and respond to VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. And leaders have to be prepared to expend as much effort understanding this external VUCA environment in which they compete, as they do in transforming the internal structures of governance and operations to meet the challenges of that environment.  

Within this context of rapid change and organizational response, three broad trends are emerging, which are shaping leadership and leadership development:


People can be committed to and passionate about lots of things, but this by itself is not enough. Authenticity is more than when someone believes in what they say or acts in a way that is consistent with their beliefs. An inauthentic person is equally able to stand up and say what they truly believe. We ought not to judge authenticity purely by the passion a person has for what they say. The more important part of the authenticity question is to look at the character of the person. What’s behind what they say? Humanistic psychologists would say that by definition, authentic leaders possess several common characteristics of emotional intelligence such as:

·         Accepting of themselves and of other people

·         Thoughtful and considerate

·         Non-hostile sense of humor

·         Able to express their emotions freely and clearly

·         Open to learning from their mistakes

·         Understand their motivations



Many senior leaders expect that employees will follow them because of their title, their company ownership or their place in the organization's hierarchy. And, honestly, many employees do follow a leader for these reasons. But that does not mean that the leader inspires their best work, support and contribution. Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational. Exhibiting these qualities and characteristics is a must if you wish to inspire the best work from your employees.

An inspirational leader does not just tell employees that he or she is deeply committed to their customer's experience.The leader must demonstrate this commitment and passion in every meeting, presentation, and in how the leader handles and tells employees to handle customer woes. The leader's behavior must inspire employees to act in the same way. Communication, integrity, inclusion and sensitivity to the needs of the employees round out the qualities and characteristics of an inspirational leader. No one is inspired by a leader whom people think does not care about them.


Knowing how to collaborate and build influential partnerships in their organization is a key skill for leaders to develop. It’s also an increasingly important capability in leading the modern workforce. Collaboration combines the knowledge, experience and creativity of others and creates shared accountability. A collaborative approach isn’t always easy; hearing others out and letting them have their say requires a measure of patience. However, there are some significant benefits that come from collaboration, even when it’s hard or inefficient: People discover new insights, become less dependent on the “boss,” develop and learn, increase their capacity for innovation, and become more committed and passionate about decisions and plans.

Certainly, there are many other facets to the successful leader, but the shift toward these qualities is becoming more evident. These trends are enhanced by the growing access to communications technology, the increasing mix of diversity, and the emergence of virtual organizational models.This changing environment has made leadership of this new sort an increasingly essential resource for any organization that hopes to stay ahead of the curve or even to simply keep up with it.