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KLR Predicts: 5 Trends to Watch in 2015

(posted: January 26th, 2015)

What's in store for leaders in 2015?

It looks like 2015 is going to be a year of transformation for companies, their leaders, and their employees. Economic recovery, changing demographics and the influence of technology are all affecting the workplace and leadership.

And while customer relationships and the need to innovate are high on the list of what is keeping CEOs awake at night, leadership is critical. CEOs are realizing that to keep engaged, high-performing employees they must have effective leaders, at all levels of the organization.

With that in mind, the following are the areas we see heating up for leaders and their companies in the coming year.

5 Trends to Watch in 2015

1) Communication Skills

We are seeing increasing interest in several specific elements of communication, including:

  • Presentation skills
  • Conversation skills
  • Listening skills

Leaders are becoming more aware that "presentation skills" apply to their work beyond formal presentation situations, and that the ability to persuade and influence is critical to their vision.

The abilities to listen completely and effectively, and to handle tricky conversations are also skills that can be learned and improved with practice, and have a tremendous impact on employee commitment and engagement, among other things. We expect to see more leaders choosing to build this skill set this year.

Communication skills will be even more important as remote work becomes a fact of the modern business landscape, and will be a major factor for those looking to change positions, get a promotion, or change careers.

2) Leadership Teams

The focus on teams, and increasing team performance in general, will continue and strengthen. There will be greater focus on developing leadership teams that can lead collectively as a team. Teams will be expected to be collaborative, dynamic and productive. Of course, teams can only be effective if they have strong communication skills.

3) Strategic Planning

This is certainly not new, but it looks like CFOs, in particular, will be refocusing on strategic planning in the new year. Hopefully they'll also build in strategic execution! For the company that spends time on building leaders' communication skills and leadership team skills, the strategic planning (and strategic execution) process will be much more effective.

4) Authenticity & Gratitude

These two attributes often go hand-in-hand, and we expect to see a surge of interest in both this year.

Practicing gratitude in a deliberate way sounds like a simple concept, yet, like so many things, regular practice is harder than it looks. However, it's a valuable tool for becoming a more engaged and transformational leader.

Similarly, authenticity, or honesty, or transparency, whichever term you prefer to use, is becoming more important for leaders and the companies they lead.

Younger generations coming into the workforce place greater importance on working with companies that are candid, and are choosing their leaders based in large part on their openness and authenticity. Customers are choosing to deal with brands based on transparency and genuineness.

Leaders who are able to do both - be authentic with their employees, clients and vendors, and also demonstrate gratitude - will find that their teams are more effective, their vision is understood and championed throughout the company, and their strategy is achieved.

5) Workplace culture

The issue of employee retention is only getting worse, as technology makes it easier to find new jobs and for recruiters to steal talent. The only real solution to keeping your employees is to create a culture where they thrive and are happy. When they are engaged, through clear communication, authentic leadership, a leadership vision they resonate with, and by work that matters, they are much more likely to stick around. Oh, and they'll get you the results you need to meet your plan.

Bonus Trend: Synergy

You may have noticed that each of the above trends, while distinct in it's own right, also relates to each of the other trends. That's no accident. An increasing awareness of how all the disparate elements of your organization, your teams, and your approach work together will improve the strength of your efforts and increase your success. Addressing each of these, together or successively, with communication skills as your foundation, will add greatly to your effectiveness.

Those of you who are already working on some of these areas, you're ahead of the curve! For the rest of you, what do you plan to change this year?

Challenge Yourself
  • Which prediction do you want to focus on this year, either for yourself or for your organization?
  • How do you see these trends affecting you?
  • How can you use some or all of these to increase your success in 2015?
  • Is there anything we missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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