In the 2023 business climate, organizations are facing a more complex and competitive environment than ever before. As a result, the competencies of the leader who thrives in the modern-day business world is changing.
Here are the new leadership trends as well as the modern management trends that learning initiatives will need to employ in 2023 and the following years to come to better prepare current and future leaders and managers for success.
1. Flattening organization structures
The days of the “hero” leader, or “the smartest person in the room” who must know everything and micromanage his or her direct reports will be a thing of the past. Organizations are moving towards flatter structures and they will need leaders who can thrive in a collaborative and cross-functional environment.
‘Flatter’ organizations tend to benefit from improved communication between employees, increased morale, less bureaucracy, and the ability to make decisions and changes faster. Typically, employees' responsibility levels tend to be much higher in flatter organizations, thus improving job satisfaction and reducing the need for excess levels of management. As we move through 2023 and towards next year, we will begin to see a shift in the hierarchy structure of many companies, particularly those in creative industries.
2. Increasing need to develop ourselves & others
To keep on top of the rapidly changing technological environment, leaders can no longer sit back and say “I know everything I need to know” as what they do know today will be outdated tomorrow. There is now a greater need to develop themselves and their teams.
When comparing job culture to that of 10 years ago, there is less loyalty amongst employees to their employers, meaning employers need to do everything they can to keep the employees in the company as long as possible to improve staff turnover. Employee empowerment is key and can be achieved through training and development alongside the role.
Wahida Mukadam, Head of Learning & Development at Acora, states: “Nurturing our talent enables us to future-proof our business. Developing technical capability is a given in our sector, and we do this very well. But we also know that it is our people rather than just tools of the trade that drives excellence in client experience. Simply put, investment in coaching and soft skills equates to our people being better able to meet the complex needs of our clients”.
A special report on Transformative Leadership touches on how leaders can empower their teams through learning.
3. Approaching the “Talent Cliff”
Firms must prepare as the largest workforce in history moves into retirement. Mentoring, coaching, and job shadowing are examples of how organizations can manage the transition of the millennial leader.
Many companies teetering on the edge of the talent cliff take the approach of hiring apprentices, and enrolling in apprenticeship programs, to allow those interested in the industry to gain hands-on experience, and for companies to be able to increase their workforce in a way that inexpensively gives back to the community, but also positively impacts the business.
4. Striving for gender balance
Strong women’s representation in leadership teams has been proven to bring organizations better results. A successful leadership development program thus needs to tap into an often woefully underutilized resource - its female managers.
Achieving gender equality is important for workplaces not only because it is ‘fair’ and ‘the right thing to do,’ but because it is also directly linked to a country’s overall economic performance and therefore growth. Workplace gender equality is associated with:
- Improved national productivity and economic growth
- Increased organizational performance
- Enhanced ability of companies to attract talent and retain employees
- Enhanced organizational reputation.
Many workplaces are actively striving to reach equality but also complete diversity amongst their workforce, a movement pushed forward largely by generation Z and millennials.
5. Shifting focus to the development of soft skills
As the role of a leader migrates towards managing teams of diverse members who have different technical skills and areas of expertise, there will be greater emphasis on the need for leaders to develop their “soft skills".
Whilst the focus in the past has been on ‘hard skills’ These types of skills include emotional intelligence, creativity, adaptability and time management. Employees can be taught “hard skills” such as the specific skills needed to carry out their role, however soft skills are learnt over time, and an employee failing in areas like time management could be detrimental to the business. Investing in the development of employees’ soft skills training courses will result in an increase of leadership potential, satisfaction in the workplace, and work performance.
6. Adopting a blended approach to leadership and management development
Leadership and management learning journeys will also need to evolve and use a wide variety of modalities to prepare the modern leader with the skills they need to thrive.
Using a blended approach to leadership development allows leaders to break up their courses into more manageable sessions of one to one/class tutoring, with some transportable materials such as online webinars, and on the go tutorials that leaders can easily fit into their day with little disruption. The flexibility of blended learning makes it much easier to keep up as your business scales and grows, particularly nowadays when working from home and remote working is much more common.
Armand Roux, Sales Director at GRENKE, states: "Blended leadership development is a key component for creating leaders that can adapt to our ever-changing corporate environment and make them feel empowered by their own thoughts and ideas and willing to put them forward. I feel giving leaders the skills to be adaptable to changing environments and the empowerment to question/challenge the norm and not feel that they are stepping out of their comfort zone to do so, is how we develop better leaders"
7. Remote and flexible working
It’s quite likely that at least one member of your team works remotely, whether they’re a contractor or just somebody who needs to due to factors such as child care. Harnessing the power of the latest technology, social media and communication platforms early on, will allow your company to transition smoothly into remote working, should the time come. Remote working offers better flexibility, and better work life balance to your employees, it also opens up the ability to employ people from different backgrounds, and even countries, making the talent pool you’re fishing from much richer, which in turn will help to grow your business.
Charlie Clark, owner of Digital Marketing Agency, Minty Digital, who has embraced remote and flexible working, states: "There’s no excuse for digital companies not to be offering remote or part remote positions in 2023. With tools such as Slack, Asana and Zoom it’s easier then ever for teams to work asynchronously and deliver quality work without the need for having to all be together in one room"
8. Training Millennials
Developing training strategies now to ensure millennials are well prepared for leadership is an important way to ensure smooth transitions once the next generations of employees (Gen Z) enter the workforce. It’s important to note that leadership styles have evolved with the ways of working and culture in many environments, and therefore the leadership styles that are taught should be aligned to this. It is often beneficial to seek training from sources outside an organization, to allow employees to bring fresh knowledge into a business, and put a different spin on habits that may have been used for years.
9. Outside Consultants
Once a leader accepts that they don’t know, or need to know everything about their specialism, and may not have all the answers ,it opens up the opportunity to bring in external consultants to share their knowledge and experiences. Consultants are often hired to improve communication skills, collaboration and organizational skills, as well as skills specific to the job.
10. Artificial intelligence
AI is gradually being developed and implemented to both augment and replace human customer service agents to save costs and reduce the needs for human customer service staff. Whilst these bots are able to answer basic questions, there is still a need for a strong presence of a customer services team in order to keep customers happy. Using bots to take away need to answer repetitive and simple questions will free up your team to put more focus on the more difficult questions, and ultimately keep your customers happy.
"AI offers great value in most fields of business including customer service", confirms Hans Siebum, Managing Director of eCommerce customer service provider Salesupply. "It really helps to alleviate the pressure from your customer service agents by taking care of the frequently asked basic questions. This is especially important now that agents are getting harder to find. However - and I can't stress this enough - do not make the mistake of leaving customer service entirely up to AI, human empathy is vital to ensure satisfied returning customers."
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