Current leadership trends every future leader should know

Leadership and management have evolved significantly over the decades, with several leadership trends storming the industry. The days of autocratic leadership are dispersing, introducing a more collaborative and people-oriented kind of leadership to future leaders.

MBA students pursuing a master’s in leadership must understand that the business landscape is ever-changing, and it is vital to be prepared to adapt to these changes to maintain relevance in the industry. Online universities such as St Bonaventure provide leadership degrees as this is so important in this day and age. With this leadership degree, graduates can be prepared for any situation by having solid leadership skills.

Hence, this article will discuss some leadership trends that are shaping the future of work and leadership roles and how to implement them in a leadership career.

Current leadership trends every future leader should know:

There are some trends that are essential to sharpening leadership skills in any industry in today’s modern world, and they are:

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the piece of the puzzle every leader needs to execute excellent leadership. EI involves understanding, managing and using emotions to establish positive relationships between colleagues and entities, to make better decisions and achieve desired outcomes.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, is an excellent example of a leader with high emotional intelligence. Nadella practices an empathetic leadership style that emphasizes addressing employees’ needs and listening to other stakeholders’ opinions.

Nadella’s connection with employees and customers on an emotional level has contributed to his success as a leader and has also helped him establish a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Empathizing with members of an organization eventually creates an environment where employees feel valued, recognized and supported, which leads to an increased retention rate.

Prioritizing personal development for leaders and their employees

The importance of personal growth for leaders and employees cannot be overestimated. These two entities in an organization must continuously develop, learn and improve on their knowledge and crafts.

One way to achieve this is for leaders and employees to engage in learning opportunities such as conferences, where they can learn from experienced seniors in the industry.

Another way is to establish a culture of continuous improvement in the workplace, where there is always something to learn, from work demos to project experimentation. This technique fosters a learning tradition where employees are eager to learn more and put that knowledge to good use.

Leaders should encourage their employees to participate in training programs and workshops and create opportunities for them to carry out their theoretical training in real-life situations.

A good tip is to ensure they do not do it alone. Leaders should take workshop classes with them and share their experiences and mistakes. This displays their interest in employee’s professional and personal growth, demonstrating a commitment to their success.

The consciousness of remote work

Remote work has become increasingly prevalent due to technological advances and changing workplace dynamics. Leaders must learn to adapt to this new reality by developing strategies for managing their teams remotely. This translates to establishing clear communication channels that ensure teams can pass information easily and setting realistic expectations, considering they are not physically present.

For instance, leaders can implement regular virtual check-ins, create a remote work policy, and use collaboration tools to facilitate teamwork. Addressing these remote work challenges ensures a team remains cohesive and productive, regardless of their physical location.

Organizational culture

A strong organizational culture provides a safe cocoon for employees, encouraging engagement, good performance, and, most importantly, job satisfaction. Leaders should define and communicate the organization’s values and vision to align employees’ goals with the organization’s values.

It is also important that they consistently model these principles in their actions. A leader should show employees their expectations, and practice what they preach. For example, if they want their employees to resume work by 9 am, they should ensure they are there before 9 am. This sets a standard precedent that most people will likely follow.

Leaders can also create an inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued and employees feel a sense of belonging is essential. For example, they can encourage open dialogue, implement diversity and inclusion, and support employee wellbeing.

Gender balance at work

Achieving gender balance in the workplace is a matter of fairness and an essential factor in organizational success. Unlike the old days, when organizations generally believed that the male gender was more effective at work than the female gender, modern leadership and management now recognize these genders as equal entities at work.

Leaders that promote gender balance in their organization recognize and address unconscious biases from employees toward each other. They also implement policies to support work-life balance and ensure equal opportunities for growth and advancement.

A gender-balanced organization is fortunate enough to experience a diverse and positively competitive environment where everyone can showcase their total capacity.


Globalization has increased connection and interdependence among countries, presenting diverse business opportunities and challenges. Leaders must be prepared to navigate this complex landscape by building relationships with other leaders from different industries and countries.

They can do this by participating in international conferences, collaborating on cross-border projects, and staying informed about global trends. Expanding their network and gaining a global perspective can help them identify new opportunities for their organization’s growth.

Encouraging motivation

Only motivated employees translate to productive employees. Understanding what drives team members and creating an environment that motivates them to do more is essential.

A good leader should set clear goals and tasks, and provide feedback in a constructive way that does not dampen their spirit. The trick is that it is easier to tailor motivational strategies to maximize their potential when they understand their unique needs and aspirations.

Development of soft skills

While technical skills remain vital, the essentiality of soft skills in the workplace is experiencing a boom. Soft skills, such as communication and problem solving, give leadership the extra edge that makes it complete.

Leaders can develop soft skills by reading books on practical skills acquisition, workshops and mentoring. Emphasizing soft skills development will give leaders a well-rounded and adaptable workforce that can thrive in an ever-changing business environment.

Adopting and blending leadership and management roles

The prominence of leadership and management as vital pillars in the contemporary workplace is irrefutable. These two roles complement each other to facilitate organizational success.

While leadership focuses on inspiring and guiding people toward a shared vision, management involves overseeing the operation’s execution toward achieving established goals.

Executing business objectives requires exceptional leadership skills, such as charisma, creativity, vision, communication capabilities and emotional intelligence. A strong leader empowers team members by delegating responsibilities appropriately while tapping into every individual’s strength.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology replicates human cognitive abilities through machine learning algorithms. In basic terms, AI can reason and maintain a human conversation, making it easy for businesses to handle customer services.

Members of an organization can now use AI in several ways, from using chatbots to increase customer service to using AI to streamline HR processes. Rather than seeing AI as a potential threat to traditional approaches, leaders must seek to identify ways to harness its vast potential to improve their performance.

Integrating AI into daily activities involves staying informed about AI developments, identifying opportunities to use AI for operations, and collaborating with experts in the field to put AI to good use.

Flexibility to welcome change in the global workplace

The global workplace is constantly evolving, and it is crucial to be ever-ready to welcome these changes. Leaders adapting to new industry trends must have a flexible mindset and be willing to embrace new ideas and working methods.

Leaders that establish a continuous learning culture can create an agile organization that quickly responds to emerging trends and opportunities. They must also show employees that being open to change is okay. Leaders can achieve this by seeking new solutions to ensure their organization’s long-term success.

Building team ownership

It is important for leaders to encourage their team to take ownership of their work, helping them build motivation and accountability. Teach them to own their work, whether it is good or needs correction. This creates an environment where leaders can trust employees to make decisions and take the initiative regarding essential matters.

This is possible when they provide clear expectations, delegate responsibilities and offer constructive feedback. It will improve the team’s performance and establish a more fulfilling work environment for employees.

Cultivating a growth mindset

One has a growth mindset when they believe dedication and hard work can develop abilities and intelligence. Leaders must cultivate a growth mindset to build an environment where employees are more likely to take on challenges and persevere through setbacks.

To achieve this, leaders should encourage experimentation and teach employees to embrace failure as a learning opportunity to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement.

Promoting cross-functional collaboration

Cross-functional collaboration involves bringing employees from different departments or areas of expertise to work on shared goals. Leaders can promote cross-functional collaboration to drive innovation in the workplace, streamline processes and cultivate a more cohesive organizational culture.

Encourage team members to work with colleagues from different backgrounds to share their perspectives and learn from themselves. This can be achieved by creating cross-functional teams, implementing collaborative tools and providing opportunities for informal networking.

Embracing sustainability and social responsibility

Leaders in today’s business world must prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. This involves considering an organization’s long-term environmental and social impact, and implementing practices that promote ethical and sustainable business operations.

Developing resilience

Resilience is the skill that helps people recover from setbacks, whether expected or unexpected, and adapt to the changes it brings. Leadership is not always easy, and resilience is vital for leaders to succeed in their role.

Leaders can also foster resilience among workers by encouraging open communication among team members, providing support during challenging times, and focusing on problem solving rather than dwelling on employees’ failures.

Leveraging data-driven decision making

Data-driven decision making involves using data and analytics to inform choices and actions. Leaders that leverage data are open to more informed and objective decisions, leading to better outcomes for their organization.

For instance, a study that shows the success of a marketing strategy makes it easier to decide on using the same approach for the organization. Leaders must develop data literacy skills and use the right tools and technology to achieve an organization that prioritizes data-driven decision making.

Fostering innovation and creativity

Innovation and creativity are vital for remaining competitive in the ever-changing business environment. Hence, leaders must create an environment that encourages their team members to think outside the box, take risks and explore new ideas. They can achieve this by providing resources for learning and development and celebrating their success.

Enhancing customer-centricity

A customer-centric approach focuses on understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of customers. Prioritizing customer-centricity in decision-making processes and business operations helps leaders build stronger customer relationships and drive long-term loyalty and success. It involves deeply understanding customers’ needs, regularly asking for reviews and feedback, and empowering a team to make customer-focused decisions.

Encouraging work-life balance

Work-life balance is maintaining a healthy equilibrium between professional and personal commitments. Employees must maintain a healthy work-life balance that ensures they are productive at work — and well-rested at home.

An excellent work-life balance naturally increases job satisfaction and reduces burnout. Leaders should consider implementing flexible work arrangements and encouraging their team members to prioritize self-care and personal time.

Measures to increase talent retention

Retaining the top talent of an organization is vital to its success. It is important to implement strategies that increase talent retention, such as providing competitive compensation and benefits, offering opportunities for professional growth and creating a positive work culture. The investments a business makes in their workforce will eventually create loyal and long-term employees.

Building a culture of trust and transparency

Leaders must make efforts to build trust and transparency in their organization. This naturally requires being open, honest and accountable in their interactions with team members. This includes sharing information and updates, admitting mistakes, and teaching employees to learn from their mistakes.

Developing a coaching leadership style

A coaching leadership style entails guiding and supporting team members in their personal and professional development rather than simply directing their actions. This involves being actively involved in employees’ growth. Here is how to do it:

  • Strive to develop a coaching mindset to motivate them.
  • Focus on empowering team members.
  • Provide constructive feedback.
  • Offer resources that they can access to promote their growth.
  • Ask them thought-provoking questions to exercise their thoughts.

Emphasizing ethical leadership

Leaders must constantly make decisions and take actions guided by a solid moral compass. In today’s business world, ethical leadership is crucial, as organizations are increasingly and quickly held accountable for their actions and impact on society.

It is essential to act with integrity, fairness and accountability, and promote these values within the team to build trust and enhance the organization’s reputation.

Preparing for the future of work

Technological advancements and shifting demographic characterize the future of work. Leaders must stay informed about these trends and prepare their organization to navigate its challenges and opportunities. This preparation involves investing in ongoing learning and development and embracing new working methods.

Nurturing emotional safety

Emotional safety is the foundation for open communication, trust and collaboration within a team. Leaders should create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their feelings, thoughts and ideas without fear or reservations.

Leaders should practice empathy, be active listeners and encourage employee communication to nurture emotional safety. Emotional safety will strengthen team cohesion and enable more effective collaboration and innovation in the long run.

Enhancing collaboration through technology

Technology is crucial in facilitating collaboration and communication within teams in organizations. The latest tools and technological advancements have made it easy for teams to collaborate on decisions and organizational growth.

Leaders must be well-versed in the latest tools and platforms to help their team work more efficiently and effectively, including project management tools, video conferencing software and real-time collaboration platforms.

Conflict resolution skills

Conflicts are inevitable in any organization, but effectively addressing and resolving them is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment.

Great leaders should be able to identify the root causes of conflicts, facilitate open communication to fix them, and find mutually beneficial solutions to satisfy both parties.

Conflict resolution skills prepare leaders to navigate challenging interpersonal situations and maintain a positive and productive team dynamic.

Recognizing and leveraging diversity

Diversity brings together a differing range of perspectives, experiences and skills. This diverse portfolio ensures that the organization can see a project differently, driving innovation and problem solving. Effective leaders should recognize the positive effect of diversity and create an inclusive environment where diverse talents can thrive.

Investing in employees’ wellbeing

The rise of remote work has increased the need to prioritize employees’ physical, mental and emotional health. Leaders prioritizing employee wellbeing can benefit from increased productivity, engagement and retention rates.

Consider implementing wellness programs, offering flexible work arrangements, providing mental and physical health support resources, and creating a supportive work environment. This shows that a leader cares about their employees, fostering a sense of loyalty, trust and commitment within their teams.


Leadership in the modern business landscape demands adaptability, versatility and a commitment to continuous learning and growth. Embracing emotional intelligence, prioritizing personal development, navigating remote work and leveraging AI are just a few of the many approaches that can help future leaders to thrive in the competitive world of work. Hence, these leadership trends and strategies can help aspiring future leaders develop the skills and insights necessary to excel in an ever-changing business environment.

For help identifying the signs of a toxic work environment as a leader and implementing change, please see the tips below.

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