As we say goodbye to another year, we also say goodbye to another decade.
As I look back at all the things that took place over the last 10 years for both me personally and the leaders I talk to every single day, one theme keeps on seeming to bubble up to the surface.
Goodness, leadership has changed so much over the last decade!
I think we all know that change is inevitable, but not everyone handles it well. The most successful leaders I know embrace it within the organizations they lead, but they also embrace it in the way they lead.
While there are pillars of leadership that never change, there are many other factors like technology, generational differences, and culture that require a leader to be much more agile and willing to adjust their style.
So what are the biggest things that challenged leaders to become better in 2010?
A new generation took over the workforce
Possibly the biggest buzzword in leadership over the last 10 years was “millennial”. As the next group of young people began to take over the workforce, leaders everywhere struggled as they tried to figure this generation out.
Many leaders, instead of understanding that change was necessary, decided it was a better idea to call names, talk about how awful this generation was, and place the blame on them instead of looking inward to understand what they could be doing better.
The leaders that did adapt to this new generation of workers, however, thrived. They were able to hire effectively, get the best out of their employees, and grow their organization on the back of these new workers.
And the changes don’t stop coming. Generation Z is now beginning to enter the professional workforce. Time will tell how leadership will need to change once again, but we do know for a fact that the leaders that are most willing to adapt and change their methods to best fit these people are poised to thrive.
Remote teams presented new challenges
Technology was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for leaders over the last 10 years. Advances in laptops, smartphones, and all sorts of other tools allow workers to be able to do their jobs from anywhere on the planet at any time they wanted to do it.
While this technology has allowed organizations to accomplish things that they have only dreamed of in the past, it also presented challenges for leaders who now had teams who might not see each other for weeks at a time.
How do you keep them engaged? How do you make sure they have the things that they need? How can you be sure everything is going smoothly and communication is still operating at an all-time high?
These were the questions that leaders needed to answer.
Leaders discovered that the answers to these questions lie in the very technology that was causing them headaches. By Utilizing things like video conferencing, online productivity tools, and other forms of communication that technology makes possible, leaders were able to crack the code on creating a productive team that also had the flexibility the workforce desired.
A true win/win.
Leadership is now recognized as a skill that can be taught/learned
“Natural born leader” is a phrase used to describe someone that seems to be able to lead people without much effort or thought. These people were often seen as an exclusive group that had the “god-given” ability and anyone without it couldn’t become much of a leader of people.
The last 10 years have debunked that myth.
Leadership is a skill that can be developed over time and is something that anyone at any stage of their career can improve on. Whether you have just been promoted into your first leadership position, or have been doing it for 30 years, you can always find something to improve on and get better at.
All it takes is the ability to accept feedback (both positive and negative), an open mind, and the true desire to get better. If you have these things and truly want to get better, you can find training or a coach that will make a world of difference for you and your entire organization.
What do you think the biggest thing to change in leadership has been in the last 10 years? How have you changed your leadership style? What do you think leadership will look like in 2029?