Industry Insights

10 New Trends in Leadership & Management to Employ in 2021

Posted by Alexandra Harris on Jan 8, 2021 12:04:00 PM

In the 2021 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 trends in leadership and management that learning initiatives will need to employ in 2021 and the following years to come to better prepare current and future leaders for success.

How to train the modern day leader 6 new trends in leadership and management 2


The modern-day leader: 10 new trends in leadership and management


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 2021 and towards next year, we will begin to see a shift in the hierarchy structure of many companies, particularly those in creative industries, and start ups.

2. Increasing need to develop self & 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leaders can no longer sit back and say “I know everything I need to know” as what they do know today will be outdated tomorrow.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 their self 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. A popular method is through offering additional development and training alongside the role.

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 programmes, 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 development on 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.

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.

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.

Equip your leaders with the key competencies required for success

Discover these key trends in detail and understand how to develop your leaders for success by downloading our free white paper on the latest leadership development trends.

Leadership Development Trends Whitepaper

 Hungry for more? Explore our latest insights on creating effective leaders today. 

Topics: Leadership Development

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