Future Leadership: How do we lead when they no longer work FOR us?

by Kieran Flanagan

Ah the good old days when leadership resembled a tidy, symmetrical pyramid of hierarchical control. Leaders at the top with layers of obedient minions, ready to do your bidding… or suffer the inevitable consequences. But what does future leadership look like?

Things were far from equitable but nonetheless the way leadership worked was relatively simple, almost parental, “Just do as you’re told!”

Future leadership looks far less geometrical, and far more complicated. And if anything, it is going to become even less orderly and controlled.

Workplace trends like off-shoring, out-sourcing, the rise of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship and the rise of the freelance economy mean that fewer employees work for us and more and more must be encouraged to work with us.

By 2020 it is estimated that 40% of the workforce will be self employed (Source: The Intuit 2020 report).

This means employees, your team, your staff, will no longer work for you.

They will work with other businesses as well as you.

They will work on projects.

But most critically, they will work for themselves.

This will fundamentally shift the kind of leadership we require. Leaders will be required to rely less on positional authority and more on a capacity to rally followers to their cause.

Leaders will have to really stand up for something that inspires others to want to get involved, not just pay lip service to a vision that sounds like it was spat out of a Dilbert Mission Statement Generator.

Tomorrow’s leaders will need to understand who people are and just as importantly, who they aspire to be.

This kind of leadership will be defined by those we choose to follow, not those we a coerced into following.