Progress marches on. And sometimes it breaks into a gallop.

Consider how radically technology has disrupted the way we communicate, the way we perform our jobs, and the way commerce is transacted over the last decade. The proliferation of mobile devices has dramatically transformed how we access information and conduct business, and even where and when we work.

Full-time employment is giving way to project-based contracts and freelancers working remotely. Borders are evaporating with globalization, increasing the complexity and interconnectedness of systems and business communities while accelerating the speed of business. Silo-based organizational structures and inflexible top-down hierarchies are being displaced by networks of teams working collaboratively to share knowledge, drive innovation, and accelerate decision-making.

As Millennials start to outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce, the demographics of the workplace is changing, generating a shift in employee values and expectations. Indeed, the corporate world is in constant flux, with companies racing to adapt to the myriad of changes as they attempt to meet the increasing demands of the modern customer who expects faster, better, and more personalized service.

Looking ahead

So what does this mean for business leaders as they try to guide their organizations to profitability in this new age? With Baby Boomers retiring, the face of leadership is changing; Millennials will be the leaders of tomorrow. Are they ready? The deciding factor will be whether future leaders can adapt to the changes in the global business environment within the context of a growing Millennial presence in the workforce. Going forward, leaders will grapple with multiple challenges…

Collaborative leadership

Individual-focused “hero” leadership is no longer effective in the new team-based organizational models. Leaders must embrace network-centric, democratized leadership that emphasizes collective accomplishments and team-based incentives. Businesses must promote leadership not only as an individual capability but as a collective organizational capability.1

Crossing boundaries

With the new agile, team-based organizational paradigm, leaders must learn to orchestrate highly-collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches to problem-solving,1 reaching beyond the boundaries of individual departments, and even beyond the organization itself. As noted in a recent Forbes article, companies need leaders who can not only lead their team but also work and collaborate across teams. Knowledge sharing and cross-pollination between business functions will be critical as leaders navigate complex issues.

Age of the Millennials

Future leaders must adopt leadership styles and programs that support the needs and values of Millennials. With high expectations for rapid movement, promotion, and career development, the Millennial generation values personalized learning and mentorship opportunities to help them progress within the company.2,3 And as Millennials move into leadership roles, they will bring their love of technology, social consciousness, and purpose-driven ideals with them.

Building future-ready leadership is critical to remaining competitive moving forward. Is your organization ready? Are you developing future leaders who will thrive in the challenging new marketplace?

Get more insight into how HR professionals are redefining teamwork, engagement, and leadership in our latest ebook: The Future of People Management in the Digital Age, Part 1.

1. https://shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/special-reports-and-expert-views/pages/ian-ziskin.aspx
2. https://forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2016/12/20/be-better-prepared-for-2017-with-these-8-leadership-trend-projections/#579116501e98
3. http://epathlearning.com/blog/make-2017-year-focus-leadership-development

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