4 key traits of leaders of the future 

Agile talent strategist Anja Van Beek lists four characteristics that are crucial for leaders in 2019 and beyond. 

With such a focus on the future world of work, HR has to keep an eye on current and potential future leaders that will likely thrive in an ever-changing business environment. Change is scary and people react to it differently. Some are “go with the flow-ers” and others may need a bit more reassurance for them to still do their best work in changing times.

This is why it is important to focus on the leadership you have in your organisation. The old adage that team members don’t leave companies, they leave ‘bad’ managers and/or leaders is true. As HR leaders, it is important to not only evaluate yourself as a leader, but to also keep an eye on the leaders you have in the organisation, some of which may not be suited for the changing world of work.

Here are four traits that should be inherent in leaders of the future.

1.  They are flexibile. A “one size fits all” approach is not working in the new world of work, especially when it comes to wanting an engaged workforce. The latest Gallup survey highlights that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged, and one quarter of employees report that they are actively disengaged. Because of these are alarming figures, it is absolutely vital that leaders take a personal approach when engaging with their teams. in my dealings as an HR director and on the leadership team, I have seen what a powerful impact the leaders had once they embraced a more personal approach. Sometimes just by asking how it is going with Mike’s daughter in the new school would give you as the leader enough insight as to why he is a bit jumpier than usual. This will also show that you are (genuinely) interested in what happens to your team member after hours. Through this, you can also understand what makes them “tick” and how you can empower them on a different level.

2. They acknowledge good performance. A simple thank you and a pat on the shoulder of acknowledgment is sometimes all that’s needed to make a team thrive!. Good leaders recognize and acknowledge their teams for a job well done? An email with “well done” in it just isn’t good enough. This is not about the formal recognition programmes in your business. Good leaders add a presonal touch to their leadership style. 

An easy activity to implement, for example  is a “recogniton wall”. You can download some Kudo cards from the Management 3.0 website and provide an opportunity for colleagues to recognize one another. You could even enhance this by giving the team member on the wall an afternoon off. Try this for a month and see how this activity changes the vibe in your team.

3. They are coaches. To truly empower their teams, great leaders don't shove their own solutions or ideas downt their teams' throughts. They adopt a coaching approach and ask the insightful questions thay create an environment where the team members generate their own solutions. 

Be mindful of how you show up during meetings and conversation. Are you always unbiased or do you judge your teams’ behaviour and decisions? How do you support your team member’s developmental areas and still keeping them motivated? Be careful how you portray your non-verbal cues as it could sense a mistrust even before they presented their solutions.

4. They are trustworthy. ?The world is full of change , and trust is one of the first aspects to be impacted when your words and actions don’t align. Consider if the gap between your action and words is causing your team to distrust you. Psychological safety is critical. Does your team have the safety to have a candid and open conversation with you to share their (sometimes, brave) ideas? How do you act when they have made a mistake?

To encourage learning from a mistake your behaviour must reflect that – you need to provide a safe space for when things go wrong. This will also empower your teams to own their mistakes and learn from them.

Anja is an agile talent strategist, leadership consultant, mentor and coach with over 20 years of executive experience in the Africa, Middle East, Asia and Australia region.