In 2007, researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) asked 247 senior executives around the globe about 10 leadership trends in business. The goal was to assess these trends, the obstacles they create, and their potential impact on leading organizations. The results show some important patterns that focus on talent, innovation, collaboration, and globalization.

Senior executives face increasingly complex challenges that involve organizational changes, market dynamics and talent shortages. One popular response to increasing complexity is to lean on innovation. Our respondents believe that aiming for innovation through overt processes (systems and structures) and talent development is paramount to creating a culture that is agile enough to address complex challenges.

Talent (and talent development) is another consistent theme. Organizations must create pools of candidates with high leadership potential and give them the space to reach their personal goals. Interestingly, most organizations do not have a well-defined succession plan in place to develop the next generation of senior leaders. Further, most leaders agree that the next generation of leaders will place unique demands on their organization. Senior executives suggest that success relies on flexibility in recruiting, developing and retaining talent.

The next question is: How do leaders need to lead? Our sample predicts that future success will depend on the ability to collaborate and focus on the team rather than the individual leader. But less than half of the executives surveyed believe leaders in their organization are highly skilled in collaboration. One of the obstacles facing those in charge of development is that collaboration is an elusive term ranging from technology driven skills to team development to interpersonal understanding.

Authenticity – the willingness of a leader to be himself rather than a remote, unapproachable manager – is one skill that can help foster a collaborative workplace. It can build camaraderie and foster personal understanding and communication. But when asked about their ability to bring their authentic selves to work, executives say they face major obstacles: chiefly, maintaining an executive image and the fear of negative reprisals.

Percentages have been rounded to whole numbers and in some instances the total might not equal 100.

Additional Contributing Author:

André Martin a former enterprise associate with the Center for Creative Leadership, is currently the Leadership Development Director for Mars, Inc. André holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from St. Louis University.

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