Article: Leadership trends for 2020


Leadership trends for 2020

Organizational success in 2020 will hinge upon leadership agility which will manifest across multiple aspects.
Leadership trends for 2020

Welcome to 2020, the beginning of a new decade. 

A lot will change in this decade. You can mark my words that many mighty logos will disappear within the next ten years while failing to deal with the rapid pace of change. The main difference between the winners and the losers will be the leadership; hasn’t it always? But then you may wonder why should the successful leaders of today, fail to remain winners in the next decade?

Technology has been moving at a fast pace, workplace demographics are changing, new work practices, as well as new business models, have been emerging. We have seen the rise of platforms like Uber, Amazon, and Alibaba in the last decade as well as the rise and fall of some others like WeWork. The business models will continue to evolve as new competitors emerge e.g. as 3D imaging and holographic technologies develop, telecom would start replacing a lot of work-related travel. Organizational success will hinge upon leadership agility which will manifest across multiple aspects. Keep a close watch on the following trends in 2020: 

Leading Transformations

Gartner published an article on ‘Top Strategic Predictions for 2020 and beyond’ which claims that, “Technologies from AI to cryptocurrencies and online shopping are changing how we live and what it means to be human.” The organizations need to be more fluid in their response to the changing environment and be in a state of continuous transformation. Consider the auto industry, electric vehicles, and autonomous vehicles will change things drastically. The ability to navigate these transformations successfully is key and in this new decade, organizations will cherish the leaders who can make these changes happen. 

Embracing ambiguity

Many data analytics tools to assess the situation and make predictions are accessible to leaders. However, they may realize that as new changes emerge, the plans they created cannot stay the same. The pace of change is picking up and leaders may not have the luxury to wait for the complete clarity to emerge before making decisions either. Leaders would need to embrace ambiguity and make decisions while setting up smaller milestones and adjusting the plans as new information emerges. This will also result in changes in the way decisions will be made in the organizations. 

Power to Teams

With so many moving parts, it will be tough for one person to be aware of everything and take responsibility for success. High performing teams will be the new trend instead of high performing individuals. Leaders would need to promote collective decision making. Leaders will be the ones who make decisions happen, rather than the people who make decisions.

Edge-decision making

The leadership will no longer hold all the reins; they will let multiple teams take the driver’s seat for specific areas. Leaders would need to avoid becoming bottlenecks in their own organizations. While leaders will use technology to stay informed and engaged in the decision-making process, they will need to delegate a lot of it closer to the action, right at the edge of the business.


The workplace may be completely virtual or a mix of physical and virtual spaces, with many people choosing to work remotely. Leaders would need to spend a lot of time on creating a culture of accountability. As new ways of distractions and disharmony emerge, leaders will take the front seat in driving results and outcomes while finding ways to appreciate the efforts. 

Human connections

As technologies and processes continue to change fast, people will become the only source of sustainable competitive advantage. Having great teams that work seamlessly with each other will be key to success. Result orientation will remain at the forefront but will be supported with initiatives around human values such as empathy, trust, listening, etc. Building trust between team members will be essential for distributed responsibility, joint decision making, and creative solutions. A leader knows that creativity is the result of a collision of multiple ideas over a period of time. Leaders would use technology to make sure that the team members bump into each other (even if virtually) and share thoughts and ideas frequently. The more they interact, the better they know each other and the higher the chances of mutual bonding.


All sorts of diversity will abound in the workplaces, diversity of gender, age, generation, race, cultures, etc., and it will increase as more and more globalization takes root. Diversity of thought will become more important and leaders would seek the dissenting voices to understand unique perspectives and prepare the organizations for various “what-ifs”. The ability of the leader to connect with different people and different mindsets will be crucial.


Leaders would need to recognize that taking care of their people is one of the best things that they can do for the success of their organization. They would have to stress upon employee health, both physical and mental. They would lead by example and make sure that adequate policy support is available to ensure healthy living.

Learning all the time

As they transform the organizations and cultures, leaders would need to work on their own transformation. They would need to keep gaining newer perspectives and challenging their own beliefs, gaining new insights and transforming themselves in the process. They would promote employee learning through customized learning experiences.

Thinking Sustainability

As our environment becomes paramount, leaders would need to imbibe sustainability as one of the key values. They would balance the business results with social and environmental sustenance. They would evaluate long term impacts of their decisions and make sure that sustainability goals are embedded in all business processes.

Great leaders will need to harness the human potential in this hyper-connected, hyper-speed environment to continuously leverage technological progress. They will need to make sure that the organizations transform and evolve to stay relevant all the time. 

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Topics: Leadership, #Outlook2020

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