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14 Leadership Trends for 2020

14 Leadership Trends for 2020
11 February 2020 John Moore

There is no single, right way to be a leader. Everyone in a management or leadership role has a different way of motivating and supporting people – effective leadership is about finding the way that works best for both you and your team. Effective leaders know when it is time to adjust their approach to meet the needs of teams and changing circumstances.

Trend #1: Team Members Must Be Brand Ambassadors

Every employee can provide the market and customers with insights into the culture, quality and standards of their organisation. By leveraging social media, particularly LinkedIn, literally all employees have the potential to be an organisation ambassador. Company messages and values can be shared to their social networks and it is like free PR. It is more powerful than conventional PR, because it’s authentic and believable.

Trend #2: Investing in Human Capital Development

Taking the time to invest in supporting team members and teams to thrive in both work and outside of work can help to create an engaged, productive and happier workforce. Managers and leaders that recognise this understand the long-term benefits of focusing on human capital development and the return on investment. Smart managers and leaders will seek to exploit new learning systems and tools such as Exponential’s ManagementDirect and to use digital learning strategies.

Trend #3: Increasing Empathetic Leadership

Value-driven Gen Y and Gen Z talent will continue to leave old style ‘command-and-control cultures’ for organisations adopting a culture of workplace collaborative. The ability to understand, relate to and be sensitive to employees, colleagues and communities will increase in 2020 and beyond. There will need to be a greater emphasis on listening, relating and coaching to drive effective leadership.

Trend #4: Supporting Individual Growth

Exponential Training believes that 2020 will be the year of ‘individual growth’. The continuous series of dramatic events in 2019 including BREXIT will force all of us to ask some tough questions about life and our values. We believe that people will turn to their employers for help and support in clarifying one’s purpose and how to actualise their potential. People will increasingly value learning and learning opportunities.

Trend #5: Leading by Example

There will be more need for employers to root out unacceptable workplace behaviours. People will continue to expect more and demand more from their employers. Those in management and leadership roles start to understand they need to not only hold their teams accountable for proper behaviour but hold themselves accountable as well. Organisations with strong role models and management and leadership roles will thrive and grow

Trend #6: Becoming a Customer-Centric Business

Although organisations and those in leadership roles have long talked about the need to be ‘customer-focused’, 2020 will be the year to ‘walk the talk’. Talking is not enough – it is now time to act. With robust customer feedback mechanisms and reporting, there is simply no excuse for not adapting to what customers really want today. Customers are no longer loyal to a brand, they are loyal to experiences that work for them.

Trend #7: Embracing ‘Work-Life Balance’

Whilst the BIG INDUSTRY leaders like Apple and Amazon, have long recognised the need to support a healthy ‘work life balance’, 2020 will see more enterprises starting to recognise that work-life blend is key for loyal, hard-working teams and team members. It takes more than bean bag chairs and ping pong tables to create a culture where the ‘work life balance’ is valued. Next year will see employers looking to use digital technologies to help create jobs and work schedules that allow teams and team members to better blend their work and lives to reduce burnout and increase output.

Trend #8: Focusing on Things We Can Control

Although we all like certainty, global events and technology mean managers and leaders need to make decisions in an ever-increasing uncertain world.  The smart leaders Exponential Training works with recognise nothing is certain in the outside world. In 2020, the winners will be those who redirect their attention to what is happening inside their organisations, getting clear on who they want to be and what success looks like. Focusing first on what’s in their control will help them make decisions that matter.

Trend #9: Acting on Sexual Harassment

This year has seen the growth of the #MeToo movement. In 2020, more employers will become less tolerant of sexual harassment in the workplace and other forms of discrimination.

Trend #10: Supporting Women Leaders

One of the major leadership and management issues going forward will require organisations to proactively support, promote and retain women leaders. Having more women in more leadership roles will change and improve organisational cultures and impact on innovation and creativity. Currently, women are held back in terms of their career progress and pay levels and organisations are missing out on what they can bring to the table that is different from their male counterparts.

Trend #11: Developing Low Skilled Team Members

With more skills shortages and the high cost of training and replacing people, employers will need to develop new, creative strategies for retaining and upskilling staff. Low levels of unemployment, a lack of skilled workers and the potential impact of BREXIT on free labour movement between the UK and Europe will demand employers take skills training more seriously than ever before.

Trend #12: Exploiting Agile Talent

Agility and talent management will be key concepts in 2020. The increase in freelancers and remote working, employers will implement policies and procedures to work with ‘agile talent’. Organisations will need to train their managers to effectively onboard and utilise the ‘agile talent’ (e.g. contractors and freelancers) to contribute to and complete projects more efficiently. Managing remote employees and team members will become a major challenge for managers.

Trend #13: Using Coaches and Mentors

Whilst an increasing number of organisations are getting better at in-house training and coaching, many now recognise the value of an external coach or mentor and the ‘fresh eyes’ they can have on issues. More managers and leaders will engage and work with coaches and mentors to improve personal and organisational performance in 2020 than ever before.

Trend #14: Promoting Continuous Education

With global trends and the rapid development of digital technology, continuous learning will become the norm. Enlightened managers and leaders will make use of continuous learning to gain and sustain competitive advantage. Learning will not be confined to formal training performed within the business. Learning will extend to a growing number of online micro-learning platforms such as Exponential’s ManagementDirect, LEAP and TeamMate360 learning and assessment platforms.



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John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.