Predictions abound this time of year, but as leaders we should be thinking about more than what changes are coming. We must prepare for how those changes will impact how we must lead, the climate in which we are leading, and how they will impact those we lead. I’ve looked into my crystal ball, asking myself those questions, and what follows are my forecasts for 2020 – my predictions for leaders.
My 12 Predictions for 2020
What follows are my predictions, and the implications they will have on organizations, leaders and individuals. Even if you disagree with individual predictions, considering the implications is worth your thought and effort.
Work “places” will continue to change. Unless people are physically building or making something, the shift to telework, distributed teams, occasionally working away from the office, and flexible work schedules will continue to proliferate. And there still isn’t enough discussion about how to make this new world of work succeed at the highest levels.
Implication: As an individual leader you must hone your skills to lead remotely. Organizationally we must prepare both the leaders and team members for this new world that has arrived and that won’t be going back to everyone sitting in the same location. (We can help – go to The Remote Leadership Institute website for free content and ways we can support you and your organization through this change.)
The workforce will keep getting younger. As the baby boomers continue to leave the workforce, younger people from younger generations are the norm – and not only at entry level positions.
Implications: If you are an older leader, stop lamenting about the good old days or the problems with younger generations. They are the future and you may need to adapt. Stop lamenting and start mentoring. If you are a younger leader, recognize and value the wisdom and experience of those who may be departing your organizations soon. Don’t downplay their role or value just because they as old (or older) than your parents. This generational shift will pay big dividends for the organizations and leaders that are intentional during this transition.
Culture and workplace experience will matter more. Much is written about transforming culture, but many organizations are acting without considering the remote, distributed workforce as a part of that changing dynamic.
Implication: As leaders, we must create a dialogue about what environment and culture will create the best results for the organization, the team and the individuals. Gone are the days of senior leadership decreeing a culture. The culture and workplace experience belong to everyone, so everyone needs a hand in defining and creating a culture that can transform your organization.
Separating fact from opinion will be harder and more important. In a world where people get more of their news from a variety of sources, and some sources might not be fully fact-based, making better decisions gets harder.
Implication: As leaders, we must be crystal clear on the difference between fact and opinion, and help our teams build the skill of distinguishing between them. While opinions can be weighed in a robust decision-making process, we must know if we are talking about facts and data or someone’s thoughts, wishes or opinions.
External divides will increase, making internal unification more important. As people live in a world where external opinions and political views become increasingly more divided, as leaders we must work hard to bring people together at work.
Implication: Not only does the work require unification, but people will increasingly want a place where they feel as though they belong and see their role as important. We must model and create this sense of unity and purpose and provide the skills that will help people communicate and collaborate effectively.
Artificial Intelligence will become more real and more pervasive. Any prediction list this year must have AI on it, right? It is already creeping into our lives and work even if we don’t really notice it or call it that. But the reach and gravity of its impact will grow significantly in 2020.
Implication: The biggest implication for organizations, leaders and individuals is that the interpersonal” soft” skills that AI can’t replicate will become increasingly important. As you build them you will create competitive advantage for yourself, your team and your organization.
Cellphone/mobile device backlash will increase. While we are talking about technology, let’s talk about our phones. People spend more and more time on their mobile devices, even if they aren’t making calls. From concerns about blue light and attention deficit to productivity loss, there will more widespread backlash against the constant use of our phones.
Implication: As leaders, we must be attentive to this trend, and perhaps help people by suggesting a digital sabbath, reducing dependence on email and other strategies. Engage your team in a meaningful conversation about their use of their devices and how your culture and norms can help and not hinder in this area.
People will think even more holistically. I know, this sounds like consultant-speak, but please think about this point. People care more about organic, local, non-GMO foods. And increasingly, that more holistic thinking is moving to other tastes, desires and decisions. This matters in the marketplace and for us as leaders.
Implication: As leaders, skills alone won’t be enough. People are looking for leaders who lead more holistically too. We must be more aware of the importance of having the right mindset, values and beliefs, not just a toolkit of skills that we can, but don’t consistently, apply.
Content will continue to proliferate. Blog posts, podcasts, webinars, video, infographics and e-books aren’t going anywhere. Never before have people had access to so much information. Yes, this statement could have been made in each of the last ten years, but it is still true. More information however isn’t necessarily good for us.
Implication: Access to content isn’t the challenge – curation is. Organizations will increasingly look for help in finding the content and voices that match their needs and culture and curating it in ways that best help leaders and their teams learn and grow.
Audio will grow as a learning medium. Podcasts are everywhere and audio books aren’t going away either. This prediction isn’t earth-shattering, but perhaps my implications might be.
Implications: As people listen more in new ways, listening will become an even more important and valuable skill. Finding time and ways to support improved listening habits will pay dividends in far more than communication, relationship improvement and conflict reduction, but also in learning.
The best leaders will see themselves as content providers. People like me have long seen themselves as content-providers. This prediction though isn’t for consultants and coaches, but for all leaders. As teams disperse and the nature and needs of learning and team culture change, the leader is uniquely positioned to provide a valuable service to their team and organization as a content-provider.
Implication: Leaders who get comfortable with video and audio tools will be better able to coach and lead their teams. Maybe it is an internal (or external) blog. Perhaps it is video messages delivered via email or a podcast. The platforms and delivery modes will vary, but leaders who begin to think about how and how often they share what they are learning and what is important to them and their team, will be the winners – in results and retention.
Learning will need to be quicker and deeper. We seem to be driving towards the quicker learning – the 3-minute video, the tidbit or the job aid – but there will be increasing emphasis on deeper learning too – and in this area we have more work to do.
Implication: As we find the next new technology to speed up learning and provide just the right nugget for the spare moment, as organizations we must also help people put what they are learning into perspective, and we must move people past task learning and to a deeper sense of holistic learning that will provide more than a quick fix but wisdom and growth.
One Final Prediction
Leadership will be more important than ever. When you read all of the other predictions, and the predictions others will make too, you can’t escape the important role that leaders will play not only in shaping the future, but in helping people succeed and thrive in that new world.
If you agree with any of these predictions, or just like our approach, perhaps we might be a good partner for your leadership development efforts in 2020. You can reach out to us (by email or by phoning Laura at 317.387.1424 x 12) to schedule time to talk about your needs and explore how we might be able to help. Or you can preview some of our live learning experiences with a very special offer. Learn more about the learning experiences and the offer here.