Will the next generation of leaders be different?

Whether it is dealing with digital disruption or expanding global markets, the next generation of leaders will need to be able to foresee and respond to change - fast. For many companies, the future business environment will demand a change in how future leaders think and act.

So, who will these leaders be that will shape our future and our children’s future? What will they look like? And will they be all that different than the leaders of today or those who have led in the past?

Many argue that the essential qualities of great leaders have changed little over the years. The need for outstanding critical thinking, the ability to problem-solve and the courage to make the difficult and unpopular decisions all remain a constant. These are critical skills, whether you are leading a global organisation, a government or the next Snapchat. Equally important is the ability and willingness to look beyond the comfortable and the familiar. Stepping outside a comfort zone can yield amazing results, both for the business and the individual. These skills will become increasingly important as new leaders face accelerating rates of change, uncertainty and complexity.  

Another, more old-school concept, is that of plain hard work. It is easy to overlook a decent work ethic in an era where unlimited information and insights are at our fingertips. For those in leadership positions however, there is often no substitute or shortcut when it comes to hard work. The ability to get things done and push harder than anyone else will be vital for our 21st century leaders.

The next generation of leaders will also need to be agile. Arguably one of the most important and elusive attributes for leaders, agility is simply the ability to move and think quickly and easily. It will enable the leaders of the future to become masters of change and resilience, rather than focusing on transactional and situational-based solutions.  

Extreme flexibility is a pre-requisite to becoming a professional ballet dancer. It is equally important for an agile leader. Perhaps ballet dancing training should be a pre-requisite for all our current, future and aspirational leaders. Dance anyone?

The Institute of Banking is hosting a breakfast briefing, presented by Professor Damien McLoughlin, ‘Next Generation Leadership’  on 9 November 2017.  Find out more here