Leadership of the Future

The last 20 years has seen an incredible increase in technology. Most of the principles of good leadership remain the same, regardless of how technology changes. However, technology presents new challenges for leaders.

Virtual Contact Leadership

One of the benefits of modern technology is the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. While this is a benefit for businesses looking to expand, it presents unique challenges for leaders. Many leaders have a leadership skill set that relies heavily on their personality and “presence”. Many of these skills don’t translate well into electronic communication.

Leaders need to be aware of this and work to improve their skills in communicating and leading using modern tools. They can no longer rely on the power of their personality to give them an edge. One of the biggest areas leaders must develop is the ability to communicate well through the written word.

In the past, leaders were often able to rely on assistants for written communication. However, with the ubiquitous use of email, this is no longer an option. Leaders who cannot communicate well in writing will find themselves at a disadvantage.

Leaders preparing for the future should make a conscious effort in the following areas:

  • Developing strong writing skills.
  • Understanding different forms of electronic communication.
  • Understanding the culture of different forms of electronic communication.

Leading Outside the Organization

In the past, leaders generally led people who reported to them through the chain of command. As businesses become more focused on their core competencies, leaders are finding that many of the people they are leading are in other organizations. Leaders of the past who lead through position and title will find it difficult to lead in the future. Many of their old techniques will not work across organizations’ boundaries.

This shift will require that successful leaders of the future develop a greater degree of true leadership skill. The shortcuts used by many in authority will not work when trying to lead across organizational boundaries.

Leaders in future organizations will also require a better holistic understanding of the entire business ecosystem, not just their organization. Leaders who can successfully make this transition will be in high demand, not just by companies looking to hire their skills, but by organizations looking to partner with them for mutual benefit.

The Difficulty of Earning Leadership Trust

Some of the recent high-profile scandals in business will require some changes for leaders of the future as well. Subordinates are less likely to trust a leader because of position and title than they were 10 years ago. In the future, obtaining trust will require even more effort.

In the future, leaders must seek to actively measure the level of trust in their organization and take deliberate steps to improve the level of trust. Before making big changes leaders must gauge the level of trust in their organization to make sure they have built enough of a solid trust foundation to obtain successful buy-in.

While the core skills of leadership will remain the same over time, the leadership of the future will require a different emphasis on particular skills. By preparing for these changes ahead of time, leaders can ready themselves today for what organizations will need tomorrow.


  1. obisesan says

    Terms referencing this article:

    * future of leadership
    * Leadership in the future
    * Future leadership
    * the future of leadership
    * leadership future
    * future leadership challenges
    * leadership of the future
    * leadership for the future
    * future of leadership theory
    * leadership in future

  2. Chris Dern says

    Very useful and insightful topic. I especially like your point about gauging trust. At the company I currently work for, we have been discussing names for potential layoffs. As a supervisor, I have been actively involved in recommending who should and should not be involved. The ownership is looking at reducing cost, in other words getting rid of higher priced individuals, where as I would like them to remove, as Jack Welch would put it, the bottom 10%. In a nutshell the owner does not need any buy in potentially to remove that bottom 10%, everyone knows they should go. However if he were to target strictly based upon salary, he better have built up enormous trust amongst my constituency.
    Thank you.

  3. John Comensky says

    Enjoyed reading the post–how does one gain trust? My favorite way is to work in the trenches with subordinates to gain perspective and empathy. If you’re not afraid to get dirty it can put you on a level playing field. Keep up the posts!

  4. Aseem bansal says

    Great insight into the needs of leadership in the future. We are managing projects and resources in a complex matrix organization across tome zones and continents. The cultural differences as well as lack of face to face interactions has already made the leadership requirements much different than what we required just a few years back.

  5. John Gwuene says

    Thanks for this well written piece. One area of communication that will also be very relevant for future leaders is multilingual ability. Effective future leaders will be expected to speak at least 3 major world languages to be able to reach out to a wider audience. The world is a global village and if the information you are communicating is valuable, everyone wants to get it in real-time. Leaders who have this ability will be in high demand and are most likely to be more successful.

  6. Leia Chase says

    I remember when I started to become a leader without know it.. Sounds strange but this is my experience years ago. Working in a plant we had a lot of trash that needed to be dumped. I went to my supervisor and told him my concern and what needed to be done for a more productive environment. He agreed and asked me to coordinate a trash dump with the warehouse. I did, and soon became responsible for what was called a trash dump. Scheduling times during the day that worked best for all departments of when this activity would take place. From there, the company began to give me more and more responsibility and them becoming a leader.

  7. Ujwala says

    Very true about leadership and trust. You cant lead people or implement certain strategic changes if your teammates or subordinates dont belive in you. Also you can not lead in a dictator way. We need to be friendly and at the same time focussed towards the task to be done by everybody. Trust and open environment are the key factors in leadership.

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