Top 10 Leadership Trends For 2019

leadership development management consulting

Globalization, digitization, artificial intelligence, deep learning, mobile work: it is not unlikely that the world of work will change more than it did during the industrial revolution. Of course, this development also brings about unstoppable changes in management circles. The leadership trends that will be particularly important in 2019 are presented in this blog.

Leadership Trend 1: Digital Leadership

In a digitally networked world, digital tools also need to be managed. “Work smart, not hard” is the motto that should help companies to move forward with the help of digitization. Ever shorter innovation cycles in product development and disruptive business models can only emerge if managers intelligently drive the transformation processes forward.

As a digital leader, you need to acquire several qualities and continuously develop yourself in order to help shape digital change in your company:

  • First and foremost, you must ensure sufficient agility and flexibility in your areas. The ability to quickly adapt structures, processes and products to changing conditions is essential for companies and executives today.
  • As a digital leader, you need sufficient digital and media literacy. That doesn’t mean you have to be able to program. However, you should be able to understand the basics of new media and new digital processes. Acquiring this knowledge is actually quite easy. As a modern leader, it should be a matter of course for you to take online courses from time to time (e.g. User Experience, Online Marketing, Scrum etc.), read Wired and TechCrunch or attend technology fairs.
  • You should make sure that your employees also acquire the same digital competence that you acquire. Very few people learn the skills necessary to work digitally at school or university. So teaching the basics for this in your own company gives you extreme advantages.
  • You need to set smart goals and ensure that your team has access to digital resources such as collaboration programs or development budgets to achieve them. This includes simple means such as providing shared cloud storage, using communications programs such as Slack, or sharing documents via Google Docs.

Managing home office employees often seems complicated. Managers are often afraid of losing control or have little confidence in the efficiency of their employees. It is clear that not all employees are suitable for this. Discipline, focus on results and self-motivation are essential for working at home (home office trial periods could be useful for this). However, if you as a manager manage to select and motivate the right employees and evaluate them not on the basis of controlled working hours but on the basis of the results, nothing stands in your way as a digital leader.

Leadership Trend 2: Modern Structures

When it comes to modern corporate structures, there is always talk of flat hierarchies. And there’s a good reason for this: Only through short, fast information paths and the liberation from the ego of the managers take advantage of the company’s swarm intelligence. A good example of this is Elon Musk. As the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink, SolarCity and many other companies, Musk dances at several weddings simultaneously. To ensure productivity, however, Musk avoids rigid hierarchies or bureaucracy. Instead, he appeals to the common sense of his employees.

It is clear that Musk’s ideas of modern business management are not applicable in all companies, departments and teams. Nevertheless, as a manager you should take the time to reflect on the structures of your department. Certainly you will also find components that urgently need modernization.

Adapting to modern structures is probably the most difficult task in large, established corporations. Especially at meetings, however, meaningful adjustments can be made, such as a smaller number of participants.

Leadership Trend 3: Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR for short, only becomes interesting for companies when negative examples dominate the headlines. Whether a diesel scandal, privatization of drinking water or asbestos in baby powder as soon as companies abuse their social or ecological responsibility for economic reasons, the excitement is great.

However, the numerous positive examples show even better that CSR is gaining in economic importance. Facebook’s plan to provide all of Africa with Internet access means an immense growth potential for users. The hip beverage brands Viva con Agua, Lemonaid and ChariTea are not only popular in terms of taste, but also score points with customers due to the donations accompanying the purchase. The sustainable business concept of Ben & Jerry’s including donations, fair trade and climate protection does not harm the popularity of the products and the profit of the company. And Adidas’s plan to manufacture shoes using only recycled ocean plastic in the future should only lead to an increase in profits due to the abundance of available resources.

In today’s era, CSR-oriented projects will increasingly generate economic profits. Executives who already recognize this potential and bring it into the company can immensely increase the company’s success. For this reason CSR (fortunately) belongs to the absolute Top Leadership Trends in 2019!

Leadership Trend 4: Psychology for Managers

Today’s leadership puts an extreme focus on people. Modern leaders must be able to view entrepreneurial challenges from the employees’ point of view in order to work effectively through them. Understanding the processes of their perception and behavior is therefore one of the most important leadership skills of today.

It is obvious that this is not about psycho therapeutic support for employees. However, if you learn to correctly assess the actions and reactions of employees in certain situations and know which psychological backgrounds are effective, you can adapt your approach accordingly.

Elements of leadership psychology are:

  • The psychological understanding of roles (in oneself and in the team)
  • Being able to fathom human behaviour and feelings
  • Psychological tensions
  • beliefs and motives
  • patterns of perception and behaviour
  • self-image and image of others
  • The right way to deal with conflicts and criticism

Leadership Trend 5: Shared Leadership

As a manager, it can happen that you feel like a lone fighter. Especially if the team doesn’t play along as well as it should, this can lead to strong stress and illness.

In order to counteract this development, the concept of shared leadership is becoming more and more important. Responsibility and leadership tasks are simply shared between several managers or team members. Thus, different employees could act as motivators and team developers, as trusted persons, as technical experts and so on. Models in which two part-time managers share a leadership position are also conceivable.

The be-all and end-all in shared leadership is successful communication between the managers who share this task. The diversity of personalities results in stress reduction for the individual as well as many other advantages:

The manager can concentrate on requirements that suit him best.

The cooperation of the managers strengthens the solidarity with the team members.
Creative innovation potentials result from the leadership level.

According to numerous studies, long working hours (which are often the case with managers) rapidly reduce productivity (here’s an exciting Economist study on this topic)! This can be counteracted efficiently through shared leadership.

Tandemploy has great know-how on the leadership trend shared leadership and job tandems.

The increasing complexity of company requirements and new working models ensure that shared leadership can be an extremely useful complement to classic leadership models: Definitely one of the top leadership trends again this year!

Leadership Trend 6: Personal Development

The importance of continuing vocational training is definitely nothing new. But in times of disruptions, volatility and new megatrends, companies and executives need to make sure that their internal learning pace increases more than ever!

Only if employees and managers are constantly developed can companies prepare themselves for forthcoming changes. For you as a manager, the further development of your employees must be regarded as one of the most important management tasks.

Especially the constantly advancing automation, provides for the necessity of a strong internal learning culture. Employees who continue their education and develop their skills will be able to find new roles. Others who are not constantly developing will find themselves in a very uncomfortable situation in the long run.

Leadership Trend 7: Employer Branding

The Federal Association Employer Branding, Personnel Marketing, Recruiting defines employer branding as the formation of a distinguishable, authentic, credible, consistent and attractive employer brand that has a positive impact on the corporate brand.

The strong value orientation of the young professionals further increases the relevance of employer branding in today’s working world. Nevertheless, the target groups for EB measures do not only include potential applicants. Current and former employees are also target groups for EB measures.

Especially the emotional attachment to the company and the associated higher motivation and identification are the core of this corporate task.

As a manager, you are a kind of employer branding brand ambassador. One is jointly responsible for fair remuneration, the work-life balance of the employees, motivating distribution of tasks, the customer orientation of one’s own area, the further development of employees, and one carries the corporate culture into the team. You should always be aware of this! If you act correctly as a manager, you can turn each individual employee into the company’s own brand Ambassador.

Personnel responsibility therefore also means employer branding responsibility. Since EB is extremely important for the long-term success of a company, good employer branding is an inevitable leadership trend for the coming years.

Leadership Trend 8: Agile Leadership

Of course, in today’s world, agile leadership cannot be missing from the Leadership Trends 2019. Whether Scrum, Design Thinking, Kanban or Lean Startup – there are numerous agile working methods that modern leaders have to master.

Another key feature of agile leaders is their ability to identify the best ideas.

Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, said:

“Google is looking for a way to retreat and embrace other people’s ideas when they’re better. “It’s “intellectual humility. You can’t learn without humility”

If you as a leader internalize the basic principles of the Agile Manifesto and know how to use the swarm intelligence of your team, you are on your way to becoming an Agile Leader.

Leadership Trend 9: Empathic Leadership

Even today, factors such as career opportunities, salary and personal development still play a major role in job selection. Nevertheless, more and more top talents of Generation Y and Generation Z are opting for value-oriented jobs.

The ability to understand employees, colleagues and communities, to relate with them and to be empathetic towards them is becoming more and more important for leaders.

Does my leader understand how to shape the team? Is he aware of the needs of the team members and is he mindful of them? Does my leader have a long-term plan with me that is consistent with my personal vision? Only if your employees answered “yes” to questions of this kind without hesitation you can motivate them intrinsically in the long term. That’s why Empathic Leadership is definitely one of the most important leadership trends of the year!

Leadership Trend 10: Leader As Coach And Mentor

As a manager you have to take on more and more informal roles in today’s world. The role as coach and mentor is perhaps the most important informal role that modern leaders have to master.

As a leader you have to be able to help yourself with the help of systemic basic principles. You must act at eye level and have the ability to lead only through questions.

As a mentor, the leader must build a relationship with the employees in order to support them in their personal and professional development. You have to see yourself as a role model who has the task to bring the corporate culture into the team and to convey more than just technical knowledge.

The basis, both for coaching and mentoring, is full trust between the participants and openness for feedback and criticism. Regular feedback should take place and both parties must be aware of the intensity of the engagement. It can quickly become frustrating when the mentor or mentee expects more from the other person than they are willing to give.

The role as coach and mentor can have an extremely positive effect on employee motivation, fluctuation and even sick leave. It gives employees the feeling that they are more than just a means to an end and can therefore drive the company forward.

It is clear that most leaders will find it difficult to address all these leadership trends at the same time. However, you and your company can benefit extremely from the individual trends. You should therefore always keep them in mind and seize opportunities for further development in these areas!

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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