Last month we hosted one of our valued Round Table events for a group of inspirational Senior Leaders from the science, technical, manufacturing and engineering sector.

Based on our extensive research and with insights from our work with many organisations in the sector, we believe the emerging characteristics for successful 2020 leaders include the following:

  1. Inspirational Communicators

Talent scarcity is one of the main issues that organisations are facing and potential new recruits need to be excited by your organisation. They need to feel a connection and a sense of purpose with their place of work – who creates this in your organisation? The Inspirational Communicator is consistent, authentic and able to deliver a sense of meaning to the day-to-day job. They are instrumental in articulating the company vision to their teams and inspire others to follow that lead.

2. (Really) Socially Responsible

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) requires that the organisations and the people who work within them behave and conduct business ethically and sensitively.  The Socially Responsible 2020 leader needs to live and breathe the belief system so that is visible and recognisable to their workforce and is embedded in the fabric of the organisation. Any future talent will want to identify with the vision and ethos of the company – it will be a consideration for them when choosing their next organisation.  This type of leader ensures that the policies are both genuine and high impact.

3. Connectors

The 2020 leader operates in organisations that are increasingly flatter and more decentralised. In this scenario the ‘Connector’ is key – they build meaningful alliances and partnerships both internally and externally, find and enable new networking channels and promote fluid and localised decision making through collaboration.

4. Disruptors

This type of leader can sometimes be viewed as a trouble causer or a contrarian, someone who always goes against the grain. However we have all seen examples of how some line managers appear happy to embrace mediocrity within their teams and the stagnant impact this can have on productivity and output. The 2020 leader needs to brave enough and courageous enough to challenge others to look at things differently. By channelling this energy and playing to the strengths of the Disruptor we can start to question the behaviours and processes within an organisation which might just push the business one step closer a major break-through.

5. Global Thinkers

Can you think of one large organisation that currently operates purely within domestic boundaries?  Within the first few years of establishing h2h Resources ltd we were already operating globally across Europe, China and the USA.  All businesses need ‘Global Thinkers’ with a global perspective – this opens up access to new talent, customers, suppliers and helps provide our organisations with cross cultural understanding and appreciation to tap into new pipelines and embrace the multicultural and multi-generational workplace.

6. Learning Zealots

In order to stay ahead of the game, a 2020 leader needs to keep up and keep fresh!  Learning is an ongoing process and leaders who do this themselves are inherently giving permission for others within their organisation to do the same. Learning is more accessible than ever thanks to technology, TED talks and YouTube for example. The Learning Zealot encourages their team and themselves to be curious, ask questions, experiment and learn from their mistakes. Every day is a learning day!

7. Tech Savvy

The 2020 leader needs to be Tech Savvy – digitalisation can divide the workforce but organisations certainly cannot afford to avoid technological advances or ensure that the capability of their people match its progression. Tech Savvy leaders will anticipate and explore these opportunities, embracing the change and increased productivity it can bring. They encourage their teams to share knowledge and maximize the possibilities of upwards mentoring in this area.

8. Lean Leaders

Organisations have been streamlining their processes for decades – The Lean Leader applies this thinking to themselves and their teams in order to increase personal effectiveness. To make the current pace of business sustainable the 2020 leader ensures that their workforce:

  • develops the resilience to proactively manage their inbox and a never-ending stream of meeting requests
  • cuts down on wasteful and inefficient demands on their time
  • supports the physical and mental well being of employees.

9. Deep Workers

The 2020 leader needs to be capable of Deep Work and allow themselves time to do it. They take some time out each week from the day to day operational tasks of leading a team and running a department to spend some time alone, without distraction, to focus and concentrate on a particular project or to facilitate their strategic thinking.  According to Cal Newport (author of Deep Work) – this is like “a superpower in our increasingly competitive economy.”

10. Career Coaches

Retirement is a shifting concept – the UK workforce is working for longer and is enjoying both multiple roles and multiple careers. The Career Coach recognises the skills and talents within their teams and uses mentoring/coaching to engage, retain and develop their talent pool. By identifying an individuals’ strengths, helping them to face into their weaknesses and recognising the opportunities across the whole organisation, this 2020 Leader can enable their team members to create fresh and diverse career pathways. This leads to higher engagement, greater retention and more chance to be an employer of choice, both organisationally and as an individual leader.