The Road Ahead: One Good Look at What Leadership May Be Like in 2030

I don’t spend much time thinking about what leadership will be like in 20 years, but that’s mainly because I’m so busy that I have a hard time focusing on next week or perhaps even tomorrow.

Thankfully, there are others who are spending some time thinking about leadership in the future — specifically, about 20 years down the road in the year 2030.

Global management consultants The Hay Group are among those future thinkers, and they just released a new report titled Leadership 2030 that “identifies six of the most significant trends that will affect organizations, employees and managers over the next 20 years — globalization, demographic shifts, climate change and digitization, to name a few — and outlines the key competencies of successful future leaders.”

“Leaders must start doing things differently”

As The Hay Group says on its website about the Leadership 2030 report:

Leaders must start doing things differently. Very differently. Right now. That’s the conclusion of our new Leadership 2030 study, completed with Cologne-based foresight company Z-Punkt.

The six ‘megatrends’ it identifies suggest that organizations will fail unless leaders drop much of the thinking and behavior that first propelled them to the top.”

The notion that leaders will need to start doing things differently isn’t surprising, because the message has been stated — loud and clear — that the huge generation of Millennials (the 80 million born between 1980-2000) now entering the workforce demand a much more collaborative approach from their managers and leaders. The top-down driven, autocratic, command-and-control management systems of the past just won’t work with this generation at all.

That’s why this passage from the introduction to the Leadership 2030 report jumped out at me:

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Leaders of the future will need to be adept conceptual and strategic thinkers, have deep integrity and intellectual openness, find new ways to create loyalty, lead increasingly diverse and independent teams over which they may not always have direct authority, and relinquish their own power in favor of collaborative approaches inside and outside the organization.

To successfully develop this combination of skills and qualities – and adopt what is, in effect, a ‘post-heroic’ leadership style – they may need to abandon much of the thinking and behavior that propelled them to the top of their organizations in the first place.

But if they want their businesses to survive and thrive over the next two decades they have no choice. Unless they dramatically change their leadership style, starting from today, their organizations will lose out in the race for innovation, the march to globalization and the war for talent. They will be, quite simply, unsustainable.”

The 6 Megatrends from Leadership 2030

The six megatrend areas that the Leadership 2030 report singled out include:

  1. Accelerating globalization (‘globalization 2.0’);
  2. Climate change, its environmental impact and scarcity of resources;
  3. Demographic change;
  4. Individualization and values pluralism;
  5. Increasingly digital lifestyles; and,
  6. Technology convergence.

I’m hardly a futurist, but I want to know where we might be headed, and the Leadership 2030 report is an interesting look at where that might be, and more importantly, what we need to do to cope and succeed both along the road and once we get there.

This report is worth taking a good look at, because as the saying (and the George Harrison song) goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” The conclusion of the Leadership 2030 report states this very clearly:

Organizations and their leaders face a tough, but not insurmountable, challenge, as those companies already adapting or preparing to adapt to the new world order demonstrate. And, as ever, the ‘Best Companies for Leadership’ are in the vanguard of post-heroic leadership approaches…

Adapting to a world being rapidly reshaped by these six megatrends is like entering uncharted territory. But organizations have to push on: there is no alternative. Old structures and leadership styles just won’t cut it any longer.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


1 Comment on “The Road Ahead: One Good Look at What Leadership May Be Like in 2030

    20 years from now? It’s here now. The biggest thing that stood out to me was the re-localization. Long-time corporate empires that don’t evolve their orgs are starting to crumble and be overrun by younger, more agile, and pro-risk firms.

    “The top-down driven, autocratic, command-and-control management systems of the past just won’t work with this generation at all” – This statement is so true. So the question is, how does a large, multi-national organization create an environment to match is new workforce while also minimizing liability that traditionally was controlled through these top-down driven, command-and-control management systems? Isn’t this what Google is struggling with? And Facebook is showing flare-ups of these symptoms too IMO.

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