What type of leader will you be in 2023?
Staying current with the latest leadership trends and best practices is essential for founders, CEO’s and leaders at all levels looking to inspire, support and enable their teams and organisations towards success. In today’s fast-paced and constantly changing world, it is more important than ever for leaders to be adaptable, authentic, and purpose-driven in order to effectively lead and motivate their teams.
Here are nine leadership trends focused on the how of leadership more than the what. Reflect on and explore these to unlock your leadership potential this year. Although these are nine distinct approaches, each one links to the others, so whichever one you choose to explore will ultimately lead you on a journey through all nine trends:
1. Emotional leadership
Emotional intelligence is a crucial leadership skill that allows individuals to effectively recognise and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of those around them. As Daniel Goleman, the renowned author of "Emotional Intelligence," explains, “The most effective leaders share one common characteristic: they all possess a high level of emotional intelligence.”
By cultivating their emotional intelligence, leaders can strengthen their communication skills, build deeper relationships, and cultivate a positive and productive work environment. The emotional leader inspires, supports, and motivates with ease.
2. Authentic leadership
Authenticity allows individuals to be genuine and true to themselves. As Brené Brown, a leading expert on leadership and authenticity, explains, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of societal expectations and embracing one's true self.”
By being authentic, leaders can establish trust and credibility with their team, creating a more positive and inclusive work environment. In addition, authentic leaders are more likely to inspire loyalty and commitment from their team members, leading to increased motivation and productivity.
3. Inclusive leadership
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential qualities for any modern organisation looking to thrive in today's globalised world. According to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends report, “DEI actions should be in service of achieving equitable outcomes in the workforce—and broader society—while boosting an organization’s innovation, competitiveness, and long-term business success.”
Being an inclusive leader is more than just diversifying your team - it’s creating a sense of belonging for each and every team member. By fostering an inclusive culture, leaders can tap into the unique perspectives and ideas of their team members, leading to increased creativity and innovation.
4. Flexible leadership
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work, with many organisations now embracing remote work and flexible scheduling. In fact, a survey by Gartner found that “74% of CFOs plan to shift at least 5% of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19.”
By embracing flexibility and remote work, leaders can improve work-life balance for their team members, potentially attracting top talent from a wider geographic area. The flexible leader recognizes that their team members have full and meaningful lives outside of work, and that by providing autonomy and flexibility they can demonstrate their trust and respect in each team member.
5. Mindful leadership
Mindfulness and self-care are essential leadership skills that are more important than ever with today’s non-stop hustle culture and business pressures. With the increase in remote work and the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial for leaders to prioritise their own well-being in order to effectively show up for their teams and organisations. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, “mindfulness can improve cognitive function, enhance problem-solving skills, and increase creativity.”
Lesser writes, “While it’s true that increasing self-awareness is a key aspect of mindfulness practice, the intent is more than awareness of one’s individual self. The intention is to cultivate a wider and more inclusive perspective, aspiring to loosen concern about oneself and to expand our narrow personal experience, so we adopt a more universal and less dualistic awareness.”
By incorporating mindfulness practices into their leadership style, leaders can improve their own well-being and create a more positive and productive work environment for their team. The mindful leader has the ability to stay present and focused, allowing them to drive towards success and stay ahead of the competition.
6. Agile leadership
Agile leaders possess the ability to adapt and respond quickly to change, viewing challenges as opportunities to learn and grow rather than obstacles to overcome. The agile leader can effectively navigate change and help their team members do the same.
Agile leadership is critical in dynamic workplaces and can lead to more productive, creative, innovative, and adaptable teams. Agile leadership is more than a mindset, and there are a number of powerful tools and techniques that you can use to achieve this. If you have a technical background, you might like to check out: https://agileconversations.com/
7. Purpose-driven leadership
Leaders who manage with a clear sense of purpose and meaning can motivate their team to work towards a shared vision and mission, while also promoting the values, culture, and goals of the organisation.
The purpose-driven leader understands their own intrinsic motivators, as well as that of each team member, and finds ways to connect the work to the things that matter most. Leaders who centre purpose at the core of their approach create meaningful working environments that motivate (and retain!) employees.
8. Collaborative leadership
Collaborative leadership, or the act of working together with others to achieve a common goal, is an effective leadership strategy that can lead to improved outcomes and increased innovation. By encouraging collaboration and teamwork among team members, leaders can tap into the unique perspectives and ideas of their team, leading to more creative solutions and a stronger sense of shared ownership and responsibility.
Collaborative leadership can also foster a sense of community and belonging within the organisation, leading to increased motivation and engagement among team members. The alternative is directive leadership, which while useful in certain situations, is often less effective in modern organisations.
9. Culture focused leadership
Culture is a fundamental aspect of any organisation. It’s often described along the lines of: the way people behave when you’re not watching them; the hidden patterns that exist in peoples’ behaviours and their interactions; the beliefs that people in the organisation hold about their roles. Culture develops as a result: of leadership; the history of the organisation; the market / sector in which the organisation belongs; the people within the organisation. However, culture is rarely curated with intention. In collaboration with the whole organisation, leaders can support a specific culture to emerge. The theme or focus of the culture can be hugely varied.
From a culture of wellbeing to a culture of quality. From a culture of excellence to a culture of honesty. This focus on culture allows the organisation to become self-organising and achieve the overall mission with less relance on leadership.
Dave Fechtman writes, “An intentional culture continuously aligns and regulates an organization’s values, beliefs and behaviors in support of the business strategy. Organizations that are purposeful about this culture/strategy dynamic routinely outperform their competition that lack focus in this area.”
In conclusion, these nine leadership trends are all important to consider as we move towards 2023. One way to work with these nine themes is to identify the one that resonates most for you, and to explore that one more deeply. This systematic approach will ultimately take you through a journey with all nine trends.
By embracing these trends and incorporating them into their leadership style, leaders can improve communication and relationships, create a more positive and inclusive work environment, navigate change effectively, and inspire their team members to work towards a shared vision and mission. It is essential for founders, CEO’s and leaders at all levels to stay current with the latest best practices in order to lead effectively and inspire others, and any of one of these nine trends is a great place to start.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
Deloitte (2023). Human Capital Trends. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends.html
Morphy, E. (2020). 74% of CFOs plan to permanently shift some of their workforce to remote positions. GlobeSt. Retrieved from https://www.globest.com/2020/04/06/74-of-cfos-plan-to-permanently-shift-some-of-their-workforce-to-remote-positions/
Lesser, M. (2022). The nine benefits of Mindful Leadership. Mindful. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/the-nine-benefits-of-mindful-leadership/
Fechtman, Dave (2018). The Three Guiding Principles For Creating An Intentional Culture . Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/01/26/the-three-guiding-principles-for-creating-an-intentional-culture/?sh=2026ed9d3cd6