Hay Group's Leadership 2030 research says that leaders of the future will need a host of new skills and competencies if they are to succeed
‘What leadership skills are required for the future? Do we have the leadership to make the transition? How do we ensure that we hire, develop and retain the people with the right skills – intellectually, technologically and emotionally? How can we prepare the next generation of leaders, fast enough and well enough, to meet the company’s strategic goals?’ These and many more of such questions are bombarded at HR leaders once CEOs emerge out of their strategy sessions.
So what do business leaders look for in leaders of tomorrow? Is it intellect? Or is it a set of behavioural competencies? Or is it the ‘know it all’ attitude? What are the key traits that organisations should look for in a potential leader so as to not lose out in the race for innovation, the march to globalization and the war for talent?
According to Hay Group’s Leadership 2030 research the leaders of the future will need a host of new skills and competencies if they are to succeed. It states that leaders of the future will need to be adept, conceptual and strategic thinkers, have deep integrity and intellectual openness. Also the leaders have future must find new ways to create loyalty, lead increasingly diverse and independent teams over which they may not always have direct authority. An interesting observation that the report makes is that leaders will have to relinquish their own power in favour of collaborative approaches inside and outside the organization.
In the light of the Hay Group research report, organisations which see themselves as being ‘built to last’ perhaps need to opt for constant renewal. This implies that leaders must continue to develop themselves and their successors. Chuck Stoner, a Professor of Management at Bradley University in his book Building Leaders: Paving the Path for Emerging Leaders, says “Although new leaders can offer fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, they are often unprepared to handle all the obligations that accompany their new roles.” The question then is how can leaders of tomorrow handle all the obligations? Jim Collins, author and business consultant, in his book, Good to Great, offers a possible solution. He stresses upon the fact that a new leader should first focus on Who, and then on What—getting the right people in the right places on the leadership team, and when the people are in place, then decide what to do.
In a 2011 white paper Future Trends in Leadership Development, Nick Petrie, Senior Faculty, Centre for Creative Leadership, emphasises on four trends of leadership development. The trends are – vertical development, transfer of greater developmental ownership to the individual, collective rather than individual leadership and innovation in leadership development methods. But how will this help? With specific reference to collective leadership, Nick says, “The question will change from, ‘Who are the leaders?’ to ‘What conditions do we need for leadership to flourish in the network?’ How do we spread leadership capacity throughout the organization and democratize leadership?”
Organisations can create the required framework and environment to build future leaders; leaders on their part need to be flexible, collaborative and able to leverage subject matter expertise. The most important aspect however is their willingness to continue their learning. A Mercer & Oliver Wyman (global professional services firms) research paper, What the future demands: The growing challenge of global leadership development, rightly summarises that leadership is not about possessing a body of knowledge but about having the capacity to keep learning and to change and evolve – while staying humble.
Going forward, perhaps what will differentiate potential leaders from the rest would ideally be a mix of specific competencies, passion and above all humility.