“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” 

This quote by Mr. John Quincy Adams – the sixth president of the United States clearly illustrates the notion of ‘who is a leader’. 

Be it an unconventional business strategy, a difficult product-development roadmap, or a dynamic business situation true leaders show the willingness to find a way for every bold action. 

But, with rising uncertainty, maintaining your influence in the workplace will get even more challenging. So here we are with the latest leadership development trends of 2021 along with a few tips on applying them. 

Let’s begin!

Leadership Development Trend 1 – Leaders are preparing for the future in a “VUCA.”

VUCA is nowadays one of the most trending managerial acronyms used, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. 

Though the concept of VUCA is old and was given by the U.S. military to illustrate the actual geopolitical conditions under which they operated after the Cold War came to an end. But this concept has quickly driven itself into the business world. 

If we consider the COVID times, today businesses are witnessing increased: 

  • Volatility – The shift is rapid and unpredictable. For instance, Estée Lauder said that the spread of the virus had slowed air travel and tourism, reducing store traffic in major global shopping areas.
  • Uncertainty – The current time is erratic
    For instance,  Coca-Cola confirmed that its supply chain could be disrupted in the long term because it depends on suppliers in China for certain sweeteners added to its diet and zero sugar drinks.
  • Complexity – Multiple business factors are inter-related causing confusion and chaos
    For instance, China’s forecast growth declined from 5.6% to 2.3%, also a lot of MNCs are planning to move out of China.
  • Ambiguity – Clarity about the current situations is missing
    For instance, Hyundai Motor said it would suspend production in South Korea due to the outbreak disrupting parts supply. 

Thus, VUCA can lead to the following consequences:

  • Sap your team’s motivation
  • Increase the chance of people making bad decisions
  • Increase risk and jeopardize long-term projects, developments, and innovations
  • Affect internal organizational culture
  • Create an anxious environment

That’s where the role of a leader comes into the picture. You must prepare yourself to face the four VUCA threats and their outcomes.

Leadership Development Trend 2 – Leaders are adapting to lead from a remote workplace

Work from home was a temporary strategy in 2019, but with the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, this has become a routine practice. 

In this new working dynamics leaders are observing the following challenges:

  • Trouble in supervising 
  • Lack of face-to-face communication
  • Reduced information sharing
  • Co-workers interpersonal challenges and conflicts 
  • Social isolation and work distractions

Thus, as a leader, your team and co-workers will look for your support at such times. You must be open to communication, offer empathy, address their problems and anxiety. Basically, you need to Master the Art and Science of Emotional Intelligence

“You can never over-communicate enough as a leader at a company, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer. Because you don’t physically see people in-person, the information doesn’t spread in the same way, so leaders need to do the heavy lifting for evangelizing the message.” 

— Claire Lew

Leadership Development Trend 3 – Leaders are ensuring to build an upskilling environment

As per PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey – “Four out of five CEOs bemoaned their employees’ lack of essential skills and identified that as a threat to growth.”

That’s where the approach of skill development rightly fits as the best option for 2020’s modern leaders. 

Also, involving upskilling, on-the-job training, and skill development as a regular practice can bring several benefits to both business and employees like:

  • Makes employees ready for adapting to changing business models
  • Motivate employees to spend more time in the organization and advance in their career growth thus reduces employee turnover
  • The cost of upskilling can be less when compared to hiring and nurturing new workers
  • Creates your brand value by giving a notion that your organization cares for its people

As rightly said by Bill Pelster – Principal at Deloitte Consulting,  

“It’s not a nicety; it’s almost a business imperative,” 

Thus below are some roles which you as a leader can play to enhance the culture of upskilling at your workplace:

  • Ensure that you have rightly found the skill gap
  • Accordingly, ensure to readily offer training and development opportunities and make it affordable for everyone in your team
  • Experiment with different learning styles and check which suits the best for you
  • Offer a free path to your employees and let them choose their own areas of development
  • Motivate them to take up communication personality development courses to improve soft skills 

Now that we know some of the latest leadership trends, here’s the time for tips that will help you deal with these trends effectively. 

Actionable Tips for Modern Leaders Based on Latest Leadership Development Trends

#1. Stimulate your current competencies – 

To successfully implement these trends, you must work on becoming a better leader and acquire leadership skills like strategic thinking, vision, planning, and delivery, communication, people management, etc. 

#2. Work on your leadership style – 

Generally, there are several styles of leadership including Democratic, Autocratic, Laissez-Faire, transformational, strategic, etc.  

The trick here is to find which is the perfect blend for you depending upon your organizational goals and your specific role in the organization. Just ensure to be effective make your people effective, because: 

“The important thing is not your process. The important thing is your process for improving your process.”

-Henrik Kniberg – Agile trainer and author

#3. Become more approachable – 

With offices moving virtual, it’s high time for you to become approachable. You should earn respect by providing guidance, bridging skill gaps, advocating, and motivating your people, instead of just demanding requests. Gone are the times when a stale leadership style was the only option. 

Now leadership is beyond asking people what to do, instead, it is about 

  • Integrity
  • Casting a vision
  • Use of influence
  • Motivating your team
  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy

The Parting Note

Leaders are not those who believe in giving up, instead industries are looking out for those leaders who know what to do and never give up for the same. We hope, you find your ways with these latest leadership trends and as it’s rightly said:

“It doesn’t matter how good you are today; if you’re not better next month, you’re no longer agile.”

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