Whether you’re an emerging leader, a seasoned pro or a top exec, you’ll want to take note of 5 important business and leadership trends.

The 5 trends are based on results from The Center for Creative Leadership’s groundbreaking research on “The Changing Nature of Leadership,” and data collected from 247 senior executives who attended CCL’s Leadership at the Peak program.

Trend No. 1: The Rise of Complex Challenges. Most executives (91%, in fact) believe the challenges that their organizations face are more complex than just five years ago. According to the executives, the top factors contributing to the increased complexity are: internal changes to an organization, market dynamics, a shortage of talent, and globalization. CCL’s Corey Criswell, one of the authors of the study, reflects that, “The combination of changes in market dynamics and a shortage of available talent create a tough environment. It appears that organizations and individuals will have to keep doing more with less while responding even faster to changes in their industry and economy.”

Trend No. 2. The Innovation Revolution. Everyone is looking for the next big thing, but how are they going about finding it? Half of the executives in the CCL survey believe that their organizations are “top in class” in innovation. The executives promote innovation in their organizations primarily through overt innovation efforts such as ideation processes, task forces, cross functional innovation teams, off-site innovation programs and stage-gate processes. Other strategies are efforts that focus on talent development, reward – recognition programs and researching of best practices.

Trend No. 3. The Art of Virtual Leadership. Organizations are constantly asked to bridge cultural, geographical and functional boundaries. Eighty-five percent of the leaders surveyed believe that “virtual leadership” – as opposed to face-to-face leadership – is a necessary skill for senior leaders in their organization. Further, 92% of 115 executives believe virtual leadership requires a skill-set quite different from the face-to-face kind. And according to the executives surveyed, it’s communication that comprises the central skill for effective virtual leadership.

Trend No. 4. Collaboration Nation. Collaboration is becoming a central part of our work as leaders. Over 97% of executives surveyed believe that leaders in their organization must collaborate to succeed. However, only 47% of 115 executives believe leaders in their organization have the necessary collaboration skills. To fill this gap, leaders and organizations need to develop the mindset, culture and competencies that support collaboration.

Trend No. 5. The World of Interruption. Research from the technology sociologist Gloria Mark states that the average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes on the job. Further, it takes those same workers about 25 minutes on average to return to the original task. The senior executives CCL surveyed state that they are interrupted every 30 to 40 minutes. The pattern is clear: Long stretches of focused work are rare in today’s organizations.

Understand these 5 trends, and you might become ready to adapt to them — and to overcome them — quicker than most of your peers.

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