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2018 Leadership Development Insights

As we move into the final months of 2017, we decided to peer into the not-so-distant future to identify important leadership development issues for 2018. We tapped three top leadership coaches and facilitators, Emma KiendlGarry Sanders, and Nancy Lamberton, for their insights. Three key observations emerged. 

1. The remote workforce will continue to grow, causing leaders to connect to their employees in new ways.

In 2018, the remote workforce is anticipated to grow even larger. While some companies like IBM have recalled their remote workers, the trend is clear. According to Forbes 2018 HR trends, the number of employees who telecommute to some extent now stands at 37%. As that number grows, organizations and leaders will have to grapple with how to engage and connect with their employees with limited face time in the office.

Emma Kiendl speaks to the topic of leading ever-growing remote workforces. “Leaders will need to be more deliberate. Putting time aside to connect with staff, to create strong working relationships, and to communicate the vision [of the organization],” she says.

Without the occasional impromptu water cooler encounter or onsite team meetings, leaders will need to think more strategically about how to bring teams together. While some tactics like hosting monthly webinars dedicated to team-building or organizing yearly retreats can be effective, understanding the social dynamics of remote teams and learning to bridge many different types of distance (geographic, temporal, cultural, linguistic, contextual and configurational) will become an increasingly important leadership skill.

2. It is more crucial than ever that leaders learn how to respond to increasing complexity and leadership roles that feel 24/7.

Work is never farther away than the smartphone in your pocket. And the demands of your role don’t sleep. With the ever-constant barrage of email, how do leaders cope and be effective?

Leaders are desperate for better time management and refined tools to manage their efficiency,” says Kiendl. At a recent gathering of tech leaders, she asked the group, “What keeps you awake at night?”  Several responded with the concern that they may miss an important email simply because of the overwhelming volume of emails. “They are seeking greater efficiency so they can spend more time leading and developing their people,” according to Kiendl. 

When leadership is not only about getting the work done, but also thinking strategically and inspiring others, it is often hard to find the time. A leader’s ability to work smarter, not harder, and manage his or her energy are the keys to resiliency. 

3. Collective leadership – many individuals filling leadership positions, versus a typical hierarchical structure – will become more prevalent and expected.

When the leader isn’t the only leader anymore, things can get tricky. Though, according to many, collective leadership is the wave of the future.

Garry Sanders invites leaders to think of collective leadership as an opportunity to create new metaphors “that both inspire and validate what it means to contribute to an organization’s health and success.” Sanders says, “The thought of a ‘relay race’, where the baton of leadership is shared seems an apt metaphor to me. Team members come on and off the track (or out of the pool) at various times, and success at the end of the race is a team win…not an individual win.”

However, Sanders cautions how tricky this can be. “Acknowledging and measuring leadership contributions by individual team members (relay racers) will be key for leaders to address in terms of metrics and incentivizing behaviors, as well as granting financial and non-financial rewards. The need for individual recognition will not go away in a model of collective leadership. Leaders will need to reward both team and individual contributions. And, they will need to do this transparently.”

Nancy Lamberton agrees and underscores the importance of emotional intelligence to collective leadership. “With more organizations having fewer hierarchical structures and moving towards collective leadership, there is a need for leaders to rely more on influence as opposed to authority as a key leadership competency. Being influential as a leader means being trustworthy, credible and able to engage others in achieving results.  Thus, supporting leaders in enhancing their emotional intelligence will play an even stronger role in the leadership development field,” she says.

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Our esteemed leadership coaches predict that leading in 2018 means grappling with distance, complexity, and collective leadership. Leading in 2018 is not for the faint of heart, as it will require moving away from the typical mode of operating, and embracing new ways of being.

At The Nebo Company, we believe leading is both a choice and a practice, and everyone has the ability to lead.  We are dedicated to helping leaders tap their inner resources to navigate through these challenges. To learn more about how we can work with you or your organization, contact us at leadership@nebocompany.com.

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