HomeLeadershipHRD People Leaders’ Report 2019: Sneak Preview

HRD People Leaders' Report 2019: Sneak Preview

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In a world facing such constant flux, with change the new norm, leaders of the future look starkly different to leaders of the past. Another sneak preview of the HRD People Leaders’ Report 2019, in collaboration with Columbia Business School.

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Leadership fundamentally is, and always will be, the same as ever. Those classical characteristics of true leaders – charisma, presence, authority – aren’t going anywhere. Right?


Our brand new and exclusive HRD People Leaders’ Report 2019 has dispelled that myth once and for all. We surveyed our vast audience of global HR Directors to ask them their thoughts on all things relating to leadership, and the answers might surprise you…

In a world facing such constant flux, with change the new norm, leaders of the future look starkly different to leaders of the past. 66% of our respondents agree that the requirements of a successful leader have changed even in the last five years – and this doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.

When asked to rate their organisation’s ability to provide modern leadership skills, our respondents gave a paltry average score of 5.3; indeed, there’s still much left to do.

As one individual put it, “The leadership team does not have the necessary competencies to lead in this new normal”. Technological demands require a different, completely novel skillset, whilst hierarchical organisational structures are also being replaced by flatter, more agile models.

A result of this is that “The balance of power has shifted from those who hold information to those who share”. Leaders who try to uphold the same top-down power structures that we’ve seen in the past simply won’t survive.

Boardroom bullies are swiftly being replaced by those possessing soft skills, who prioritise collaboration over competition and who are able to navigate rapid change. Charisma, often seen as a prerequisite for anyone in a leadership position, was cited by only 5% of respondents as a necessary quality for the leaders of tomorrow.

The onus is definitely changing: leaders used to be in charge of everything, guiding from the front and being the glue that holds an organisation together.

However, according to Lars Sudmann, management consultant, ex CFO of Procter and Gamble’s Belgian division and an expert contributor to our report, “Groups need to be self-leading, with the leader almost in the background… We’re moving towards a world where leadership is about defining the what and the why, and letting people define the how.”

This change in leadership style is also prompting a shift in recruitment attitudes. When asked what qualities or characteristics they look for in identifying potential leaders, almost 70% of our respondents chose ‘clear communication skills’.

But it’s not just about those qualities that employees already possess – nobody’s perfect, and people need to be given the chance to develop. Fortunately, just over 70% of our respondents stated that their organisations have leadership programs in place.

And, there’s also a significant role for governmental bodies and educational institutions in developing leaders of the future. Responsibility shouldn’t solely lie with corporate organisations; society as a whole has a duty to do all it can in promoting leadership development going forward.

To find out more, including fascinating findings on diversity and inclusion in leadership and the war for talent, click here to download the HRD People Leaders’ Report 2019 in full.

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