Driven by a complex web of socio-economic, technological, and cultural changes, leadership is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Below, I predict seven key trends and developments for 2030 that today's leaders should anticipate in the near future.
Employee well-being will be prioritized.
This trend is fortunately already in progress, but leadership will evolve even more towards a more people-centric approach. The physical and mental health of employees will become a priority. Leaders of today will have to focus on creating and maintaining a positive culture and work environment that promotes work-life balance. They will also need to actively and consistently address how to improve employees' physical and mental health.
Think about providing access to facilities such as a gym, wellness programs, and resilience training. But also think about encouraging employees to take regular breaks and holidays, avoid excessive workloads, and facilitate healthy eating.
An important aspect for leaders in 2030 is that they themselves should set a good example by also prioritizing their own well-being. That is, leaders should take care of their own physical and mental health first and foremost. Issues such as extreme obesity or unhealthy habits will therefore not be tolerated in a leadership role in the future.
Focus on personal leadership and autonomy.
The enforced hierarchy we still often see today will slowly disappear within most sectors and make way for personal leadership and autonomy. Employees will be expected to take more responsibility themselves and start thinking and acting outside their defined task or job description. This requires a leadership style that facilitates and supports employees to grow and empowers them.
The leader of the future will have to learn to let go of control and certainly not micromanage. Research shows that the leader's role will shift towards encouraging autonomy on the work floor, developing talents, and recognizing and appreciating the initiatives taken. Regardless of whether the outcome is positive or negative.
Anticipating radical change.
Leaders in 2030 will, more than ever, need to be able to anticipate or initiate radical changes themselves. The world will continue to change faster, which means that what is a success today may already be obsolete tomorrow, for example, due to the influence of technological developments. Leaders need to be adaptive to change themselves and build teams that can deal with this.
This means putting innovation and disruption high on the agenda and facilitating employees to be disruptive in thinking and acting. Employees should feel encouraged to take risks and think out-of-the-box. This makes a mindset of 'Fail Fast & Learn Rapidly' one of the most important assets of a company, and the leader of the future is responsible for this.
Navigating the digital revolution.
The digital revolution has become ubiquitous and has rapidly changed the way we work, communicate, and strategize. Leaders of tomorrow must no longer be passengers but must become active drivers. The advent of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning offers leaders a wealth of information never before seen. This will only increase, and more information is great, but it also requires a clear analytical and strategic ability to turn that data into valuable actions and results.
Of course, thanks to the lightning-fast technological developments, there will also be more tools that will help structure the data, but it remains up to the leader to make choices faster than ever. In addition, the leader must be able to keep up with technological developments and deploy them in the right way. Incidentally, this applies not only to the leader of 2030 but also to employees. Leaders must be and remain extremely curious and encourage this curiosity in their teams.
Foster emotional and cultural intelligence.
With more autonomy in the workplace and increasing globalization, there will be more and different ways of working together. There will be increasing interdependence and integration between countries, economies, cultures, and people around the world. Leaders and their teams will need to have emotional and cultural intelligence to deal with this wisely and effectively.
According to research, leaders in 2030, more than ever, will need to be able to connect and leverage differences in approaches or thinking, turning them into advantages. This requires a lot of tolerance, curiosity, and flexibility in thinking and acting. Here, too, the leader of 2030 has an exemplary role. With the increasing diversity of people, approaches to work or challenges, and increasing autonomy, not everything will go the way the leader would have done it themselves. Therefore, this requires a flexible mindset from the leader to adapt to these changes.
Connect the machine to human nature.
Leaders in 2030 will have the ability to continuously adapt the machine - the enterprise - to human nature. Today, it is usually the other way around, where employees have to conform to the company's processes and procedures, even if they go against their nature. Think of inflexible working hours and too strictly prescribed rules and processes.
However, it becomes increasingly crucial for the machine and everyone involved to contribute to a better, more future-friendly world. This is not because it is prescribed by governments, but because it aligns with human nature. By nature, we do not waste, we take care of each other and nature, and we try not to destroy anything, especially not our own environment.
Real leaders of the future understand this and actively contribute to it with their future-driven leadership style. Not because they have to, but because they can, because it aligns with human nature, and because it brings happiness and improvement.
Have a Purpose or Die
The most important trait that every leader in 2030 will possess is the ability to embrace and actively promote the purpose of the organization. Companies without an inspiring purpose will have no long-term viability if they even exist at all. Leaders understand this and wholeheartedly contribute to the purpose of the enterprise. It is the reason why they do what they do and why they are actively involved within the company.
The purpose of the organization aligns completely with what the leaders themselves believe in, which makes them passionate, driven, resilient, and steadfast in the long run.
Overall, the future of leadership in 2030 will require leaders to prioritize employee well-being, embrace personal leadership, anticipate radical change, navigate the digital revolution, foster emotional and cultural intelligence, connect the machine to human nature, and embrace the purpose of the company. By understanding these trends, developments, and predictions, today's leaders can better prepare themselves and their organizations for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the evolving landscape of leadership.