A few weeks back
one of the business leaders at my current organization remarked that, “it’s now guys wearing suits who report to
into guys wearing jeans and sneakers”.
if analyzed contains all the necessary aspects of the changing paradigm of
leadership in today’s rapidly changing economies and workplace dynamics. The
keys to power have moved into the hands of people who have ideas that can
disrupt, who have mastery over new tools or technology and maybe also born on
the other side of a particular decade. This has also caused massive flux in
what have been the traditional models of leadership development that have been
taught and practiced since the heydays of the industrial revolution.
So what is the
future of leadership development?
If we put on our
thinking hats and try gaze ahead, there seems to be only two threads entwined
together- ability to learn rapidly and learn from others while not necessarily
conforming to traditional hierarchical models.
There is decade
old article titled “The Future of
Leadership Development: The Importance of Identity, Multi-Level Approaches,
Self-Leadership, Physical Fitness, Shared Leadership, Networking, Creativity,
Emotions, Spirituality and On-Boarding Processes” by Craig L. Pearce
(erstwhile of the University of Nebraska- Lincoln). What this confoundingly
complex article states is beyond the realm of this piece, but a line from the
conclusion has stayed with me- “To endure successfully, leaders must be prepared to navigate smooth,
rapid transitions across a range of leader behaviors in response to situational
demands, as well as navigate smooth transitions between leadership and
Which brings us
to the key aspect of “Followership” and how this simple and extremely difficult
behavior will play a tremendously huge role in leadership development in the
digital and connected world.
The theme of
“Leading from Behind” and “Followership” blends quite well but one must
remember that followership gets only a small fraction of the airtime that
leadership does. Nowhere is this more rampant but at the first stage of
leadership development education- B-schools and the challenges becomes more
complex as the years roll by.
While we will
soon see a lot more focus on this aspect of leadership development with sub
segments like reverse mentoring, reverse coaching, lifelong learning, etc. The
future movement will also face challenges especially from conformists, egoists,
At the end one
can always recall a popular video of the migratory geese flying in the V
formation where the position of the leader keeps getting changed between the
flock members to ensure the fastest and most efficient movement. Similarly the
future of leadership development too lies in the ability of building practices
which simulate such behaviors and practices.