6 Future Trends of Leadership Development

I’ve spent the last 3 years in and around leadership development online.  I have also spent the last 30 years learning about leadership development (and learning in general).  After numerous mistakes, and before several more, some things have become obvious to me because of my time online.

Leadership development is changing quickly.  I’m not speaking as much about leadership itself, but the act of developing oneself or others as leaders.  I also know 3 years isn't a lot of experience, but it is a long time on the Internet, especially if you haven't been here as long.  The online community of leadership developers is still quite small.  As a result, it may still be "some time" before the world actually experiences some of the trends below.  But I also think that “some time” will be measured in single-digit years rather than decades.

Three Changing Trends

There are 3 changing trends in leadership development that I can deduce from watching the evolution of social media, the Internet and the leadership development community.

Leadership development will become more personal.  As organizations become flatter and as they cut back on people expenses, organizations will purchase less and less leadership development.  As a result, more individuals make the selections of what training is purchased; more purchases will be made one-person-at-a-time.  Also, more will demand the ability to set their own pace.

Leadership development becomes more internal.  It becomes more about who you are, than how you behave once you have a position.  Besides, there simply aren’t enough positions, and too many of us have been victimized by someone we didn’t respect who just happened to be in a leadership position.  More and more of leadership development will continue to be about how to gain the respect and trust of others or how to inspire others.  Respect and trust become the fuel for the new leader.

Trial and error feedback loops will accelerate.  (See the first Continuing Trend below.) Several factors in our world point to everything happing quicker.  We won’t listen to a week-long training class and then try to apply that in our jobs for the next 6 months.  We need our leadership development in blog-post sized chunks so we can try them out this afternoon.  And if they don’t work in a day or two, we’ll try something else.

Three Continuing Trends

Three other trends in leadership development will continue.  Of note those include:

Leadership development is learned, not taught.  Trial and error remains an integral part of leadership development.

We still grant credibility the way we always have.  Credibility is created over time, through results.  And we tend to extend more credibility to those we experience first hand in their trade.  It takes time and positive results to become a credible leadership developer.

We still grant respect the way we always have.  As John Maxwell and others have said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  We withhold respect from those we don't trust.

In my next post, we'll talk about behaviors we need to reinforce or change related to these trends.  But before we do that...

What about you?  I know many great leaders read this blog from time to time.  What do you think about the future of  leadership development?  What trends do you see or how might you expound on these?

Photo © crystal kirk - Fotolia.com

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