2017 is slowly approaching, and with a new year comes new challenges. Personal challenges. Team challenges. Organizational and leadership challenges. While my crystal ball is far from being 100% accurate, there are certainly leadership trends from this year that can be projected into next.
Here are eight leadership trend projections for 2017:
1. More “we,” less “me.”
Funny how research on teams has been around for over 20 years but when Google released what they learned about teams and teamwork, it becomes news. It’s no secret that team performance drives business performance, and leaders are beginning to realize that dividing their organizations into areas of functional expertise (i.e. silos) does nothing to promote the panoramic view and understanding employees need to make accurate and timely decisions. The greater employees’ awareness about their company’s internal and external (i.e. competitive) environments, the faster they can make decisions and the faster their company can adapt. Knowledge sharing and cross-pollination between business functions must be a process rather than a “nice to have.”
2. Increased attention on curiosity.
Curiosity has topically been a leadership trend throughout 2016 and will continue into 2017. The beauty about curiosity is that it fosters creativity and innovation; it incites opportunity and sparks growth potential. To stay competitive, companies must be willing and able to move out of the complacency of success that defined them today and continually question the status quo so they can create a better tomorrow. Organizational curiosity does just that—it feeds people’s innate desire to know more, and when you know more, you can be more by doing more.
3. Greater investment on human capital.
The smart option for industry leaders is to capitalize on the millennial workforce population given that they (millennials) comprise the majority of the labor force today, and one motivating factor for millennials is personal and professional development. One 2017 leadership trend for preventing the millennial job-hop will be increased mentorship opportunities. After all, people analytics is huge today and growing, which means more products and services will arise affording everything from decision making to building better habits.
4. Personalized learning.
The key to learning is personalization. Technology allows learning to be optimized and catered to the learner’s preferred style, pace, interests and goals. Shorter, bite-sized learning segments ranging from one to three minutes are more palatable and less overwhelming to undertake than their 30 to 60 minute course counterparts.
5. From full-time to 1099.
The business model of full time employment no longer makes sense. From an enterprise perspective, the costs of employer-provided healthcare, insurance and retirement options aren’t getting any cheaper, especially if you want to attract top talent. Take virtual assistance, for example. With a virtual assistant, you receive the same service minus the costs associated with full time employment. On the flip side, if you’re in the job market looking for work and you don’t like the options offered by a potential employer but you like the work itself, then you’re stuck with what they offer. Enter the 1099, or independent contractor. The tax benefits of working as a 1099 are too many to count, not to mention the freedom to choose the work you want (or don’t).
6. More customer control.
Research by the IDC points to greater customer control as one leadership trend for 2017. Specifically, the report projects that a fifth of industry leaders will be able to allow customers greater customization options for product and service bundles, affording greater control and personalizing the customer experience.
7. Increased focus on networks.
Along similar lines, Deloitte’s 2016 human capital trends report indicates that the number one dilemma organizational leaders face is how to stay competitive—structurally—amidst constant and ongoing change, and the realization they’re having is that matrices and hierarchies of the 1980s no longer work. The challenge now is translating how work is claimed to get done (think of the company org chart) with how it actually is (through relationships and networks). It’s making the intangible tangible and proceduralizing it that’s the challenge.
For leaders to keep their companies competitive throughout 2017 they’ll need people who can not only lead their own team but also work and collaborate across teams; it’s the difference between teamwork and teaming. The skill and willingness of tomorrow’s employees to work cross-functionally demands new training and new expertise that doesn’t come from the outdated hierarchical models of yesterday.
8. Reevaluated incentives.
One common challenge across organizations today is their reward system. While many leaders place a premium on teams and teamwork, the reward structure favors individuals. You receive what you reward, and if you want to reward collaboration, learning and shared wins, you have to incentivize it. If you aren’t sold on team-based incentives, look no further than the latest Wells Fargo fiasco.
What are your top leadership trend projections for 2017?
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