As the working landscape continues to evolve almost as quickly as trick-or-treaters finish their candy, leaders and managers are tasked with helping their organizations meet shifting challenges. What are some key skills leaders will need, how will their roles change, and what needs to change in leadership development?
In a survey of 40 successful leaders, the Harvard Business Review identified six skills every leader should practice:
- Shape a vision that is exciting and challenging for your team
- Translate that vision into a clear strategy about what actions to take, and what not to do
- Recruit, develop, and reward a team of great people to carry out the strategy
- Focus on measurable results
- Foster innovation and learning to sustain your team (or organization) and grow new leaders
- Lead yourself: know yourself, improve yourself, and manage the appropriate balance in your own life
At each step, it’s important for leaders to continually reflect on their successes and failures, and ask for feedback from colleagues and mentors—self-reflection can improve performance by up to 20 percent.
To keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of work and to prepare for the future of work, the role of managers also needs to change, especially as more generations take on management and leadership roles.
It Was an Old-Time Smash: Moving Away From Traditional Management
Over the past hundred years or so, management has traditionally been associated with five basic functions:
To meet today’s challenges, managers need to rethink how they go about their roles. Instead of focusing heavily on directing, managers should adopt an instructive mindset to make learning a priority: “learning, not knowledge, will power organizations into the future; and the central champion of learning should be the manager.”
Rather than being restrictive, managers must to learn to delegate, encourage their employees to work on their decision-making skills, and work with peers—creating “leadership circles”—across departments to “gain more perspective about problems and solutions.”
The Midnight Hour is Close at Hand: Leadership Questions to Consider
It’s also important for organizations to continually think about how prepared they are, individually and collectively—to develop the next generation of leaders. Organizations might ask themselves: “what organizational policies and practices will facilitate the identification and development of a next generation of leaders? Beyond policies and practices, what kind of organizational culture and climate will be needed to enable this new leader profile to emerge more organically?”
Another question to consider: “What will be the distinguishing characteristics of great leaders in the future? What will they do differently, do better, or stop doing?”
Thinking through leadership for the future of work is an ongoing conversation that will continue to change. Perhaps a question MIT Sloan Management Review poses is one every leader should ask themselves: “Will I be ready to lead in 2025?”
For more on leadership development, check out our ebook: Strong Culture, Strong Leaders.