Over the last decade or so, authoritarian styles of leadership have been rejected more frequently in favour of authoritative styles that use collaboration, coaching and emotional intelligence among other skills. In the recent Hay Group Leadership 2030 research, six megatrends emerged that will bring additional challenges to leaders. Indeed, the leadership study opens with this declaration:
“Leaders of the future will need to be adept conceptual and strategic thinkers, have deep integrity and intellectual openess, find new way to create loyalty, lead increasingly diverse and independent teams over which they may not always have direct authority, and relinquish their own power in favor of collaborative approaches inside and outside the organization. To successfully develop this combination of skills and qualities – and adopt what is, in effect, a ‘post-heroic’ leadership style – they may need to abandon much of the thinking and behavior that propelled them to the top of their organizations in the first place.”
What does this mean to a small to mid-sized businesses?
To answer that question, it’s important to learn more about the six megatrends. They cover transformations across the globe and affect everyone politically, socially and economically.
- Accelerating globalisation- Asian companies are expanding their reach. There is greater interconnectedness, greater need for awareness and sensitivities to political and economic events and sensibilities of other countries; culturally diverse teams; increased cross-country and cross-functional teams over which a leader may not have direct authority over the team; organisational structures will become more flattened matrices
- Climate change, its environmental impact and scarcity of resources- We are all familiar with reports of increased scarcity of water and fossil fuels. But are you aware that some metals and minerals are also less abundant? Sustainability; lowering carbon footprints; clean technology and accountability for how business affects the environment are increasingly considerations in business planning.
- Demographic change- Developed countries are experiencing stagnating or declining birthrates while emerging economies are growing. Globally the population is aging. It’s becoming difficult to find talent and retain good employees
- Individualism and values pluralism- Careers are developing as expressions of our person. Work-life balance, purpose and meaning have gained more prominence. More organisations and teams are being designed to support the employee organising how and when he/she completes their work while also working on personal projects. This will create flatter organisational strucures that are flexible, vary in structure and use cross-functional teams.
- Increased digital lifestyles- With work and personal time blurring, increased stability in working virtually and the ability to connect with colleagues, co-workers and others all over the world, digital natives will bring their mastery of technology into all workplaces. A concern is that some important social and emotional intelligence skills may be less developed. The ability to instantly share information affects the power dynamic of leader and employee.
- Technology convergence– Practical use of knowledge of new technologies and innovations will be needed as technology crosses disciplines. Collaboration, cross-partnerships and innovation will lead to more open structures and great changes in how different professionals interact and work together within an organisation.
“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” R. D. Laing
Anecdotally, these megatrends are currently present in many SME’s. Maybe like Tus Nua Designs, you use a business model that doesn’t require a physical office to provide good products to your customers. A number of small to mid-sized businesses are taking advantage of social media sites to connect with colleagues, make new partnerships in other countries or use cloud computing or Skype to collaborate regionally and beyond.
Smaller organisations are often more agile in their markets and have the capacity to create more human-centered workplaces. Given the rapid pace of change, it makes sense that leadership skills will be stretched in ways we may not be prepared for. The Leadership 2030 research articulates the new leadership competencies will involve strategic thinking, conceptual thinking, intellectual openess and curiosity, cultural (national, age, gender) awareness and sensitivity, embracing more integrity and sincerity, rethinking loyalty and willingness to collaborate across disciplines and borders.
What do we gain with these changes?
What do we lose with these changes?
What practices are already in place in your business that coincide with the megatrends?