5 Critical Leadership Skills for The New Decade

We have spent the last few years hearing how the millennial generation will dominate the workforce from the year 2020 and learning about how leaders can lead and manage an ever increasingly diverse and multi-generational workforce. 

The reality is that 2020 isn’t too far awayRecently it has made me think about what lies ahead for organisations and leaders in the next decade. 

Over the last ten years, we have seen dramatic change as more disruptive driven companies have entered the market: Uber, Airbnb, Deliveroo, to name just a few.   

Also, let’s not forget the continued rise and dominance of Amazon and how it’s influenced the buying habits of tens of millions of people. In summary, organisations have embraced the internet for ecommerce and service-based businesses and how they communicate with customers. 

So, what about the next ten years? According to recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd, companies will: 

  • Become more substantial and more global.
  • Less centralised with local operations free to explore new opportunities. 
  • Companies will be flatter. 
  • Employees will be given more decision-making responsibility, earlier in their career. 
  • Workforces will be more fluctuating to accommodate where talent is globally required.

Which poses a question. What does this mean for leaders over the coming years? In this article, we look to the future and what the five critical skills are that leaders will need for the coming decade.


1. Agility



In simple terms, leaders will need to be able to handle any curveball that comes their way. Leading through an ever increasingly complex technologically driven environment means successful leaders will be agile leaders. Before we carry on, let’s be sure we all understand what we mean by this. 

An agile leader is someone who:  

  • Is a creative thinker. 
  • Makes decisions and acts at speed. 
  • Proactively can engage a wide range of stakeholders whom they influence and learn from. 
  • Can move through and create change within teams, departments and their organisation.

We are talking about someone who thrives on problemsolving, for mutual benefittheirs and the organisations too. 

Which leads me to the next skill. 


2. Leading Through Change

Change is a constant in many organisations, yet McKinsey reveals that only 30% of change programmes succeed.  

Why is this?  

There’s a wealth of research on why transformational change programmes fail and various reasons referenced such as; lack of need or strategy or no alignment across the organisation — lack of involvement across the business and inappropriate resources.

When you look at this list, there is a theme running through, and that is the impact of senior leaders across the process. Currently, few leaders understand and are good at executing change; therefore, future leaders must be better at the change process.

Creativity is the one skill that is underutilised in change. When a leader can tap into their teams natural creative instincts, change will happen with greater ease. Employees will be engaged and motivated because they have been part of the process: This is when results will happen. 


3. Collaboration



Linked to my previous comments about change, it makes sense that there is a need for leaders who have a collaborative mindset, and I don’t mean only with internal colleagues either 

A collaborative leader is at ease networking and cooperating across cultures, markets and potentially, dare I say it, with competitors too! 

There is no doubt that in some markets, organisations are flat in structure, though in specific sectors, a more hierarchical structure still exists. If we want leaders to embrace collaboration, then there is a need for organisations to remove more barriers and move towards being non-hierarchical.


4. Emotional Intelligence

I recently read an article that suggested that emotional intelligence will become a prominent component of business principles. 

We know that when an employee has high emotional intelligence, they have good awareness of their strengths and development areas 

Also, they tend to show greater empathy towards clients and understand the drivers of their competitors at a deeper level too. 

From a leader’s perspective, while they need to have high emotional intelligence, they also need to be skilled at identifying which of their employees also have a high EQ. The more leaders can understand their team members perspective and ideas, the more they can create environments where Millenials and the upcoming Gen Z generation will thrive. 


5. Future Focused 



Adapting to the constant advancements in technology, especially AI, is one of the biggest challenges organisations and leaders face in the next decade. As a result, leaders will need to focus externally and be able to scan their marketplace to identify trends and opportunities, which then may require new skills and further innovations. 

We are living in complicated times, and I firmly believe that successful leaders of the future will be those who: 

  • See the opportunity in a market. 
  • Use their talents to network and collaborate with people at all levels without boundaries. 
  • Can harness the creative potential of those they surround themselves with. 
  • Can adapt their working practices to meet the needs of a workforce who are looking for new ways of working and a healthier worklife balance. 

Leaders who can take collaboration to a new level in building their teams, and who can use the digital tools to their most significant effect, will direct their companies into a dynamic future. 


What Next? 

Be honest with yourself, which of these five skills are strengths, and which do you need to develop?
How will you develop them?  

Here at Zestfor, we now offer a unique programme called Powerful Conversations. If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here. 

Until next time, 



Can We Help?    

Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.      

Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.