Five leadership megatrends changing the workplace

A new global study shows that moving forward, CEOs are most worried about their people strategies.

The biggest worry on executives' minds around the world isn't recession, global competition, or labour relations. Rather, a report shows that what's keeping C-level executives up at night is their people strategies.

The Global Leadership Forecast 2018, produced from a collaboration between EY, Development Dimensions International (DDI), and The Conference Board, indicates that C-level executives are most concerned with developing "next gen" leaders -- with 64% of those surveyed indicating it as a challenge.

Attracting and retaining top talent ranked as the second top challenge, affecting 6 out of 10 participants. 

This year’s study includes data from almost 26,000 leaders from nearly 2,500 organisations from around the world, across 26 different industries. The study also involved the participation of more than 2,500 human resources professionals.

"If you're deeply concerned about your organization's lack of leadership capability, you are in the clear majority," said Evan Sinar, chief scientist and vice president of DDI, and lead author of the study.

"The tremendous amount of data we collected in this study shows that as digital disruption continues to transform the workplace, we're facing a massive leadership shortage worldwide. The good news, however, is that the research also reveals a clear road map of how organizations can start changing their people strategies today to excel tomorrow,” he added.

Here are five of the leadership mega-trends that emerged in the report:


1.     Digital is reshaping the workforce

Digital pioneers—defined as the top 25 percent of organizations with the strongest digital leadership capabilities—financially outperform other companies by half.

The impact of a digitally transforming workplace influenced nearly every aspect of the research, revealing that organizations that have digitally-savvy leaders are significantly outperforming the average. Further, the study showed that there are substantial differences in leaders' skills at organisations considered "digital pioneers" versus those which are "digital laggards."


2.     Data is creating a more inclusive, agile, and fair workplace

Organisations with more women in leadership are 1.4 times more likely to have sustained, profitable growth.

By tying people analytics to business results, organisations are seeing how greater diversity in leadership positively affects the bottom line, and how diverse leadership capabilities better prepare organizations to handle disruption.


3.     A diverse, purpose-driven culture defines success

Culture emerged as a major driver of leadership success in the study. The data showed that, for leadership strategies to succeed, organisations must build solid cultural cornerstones, such as a clearly communicated purpose, peer coaching, experimentation and psychological safety. Diversity also plays a major role in building a successful workplace, which includes embracing gender diversity, leveraging diverse mindsets, and understanding the relationship between Millennial, Generation X and Baby Boomer leaders.


4.     DIY doesn't work

More than half (55%) of the organisations in the top third for financial performance have formalised mentoring, and a "do it yourself" mentality leads to leadership failure. Organisations that rely on a self-directed, insular approach to learning are failing to engage leaders in meaningful development.


5.     Finding new sources of leadership potential is crucial

Organisations that extend development of high-potential talent below senior levels are 4.2 times more likely to financially outperform those that don't.

The report founhd that organisations that take a broader view of leadership potential are more financially successful, feature stronger top leaders and have more women in leadership.


The full report can be found here:

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