Leadership Development Trends: Really?

Its often said you can’t stand still, business is in constant change and you need to change to stay ahead. While this might appear too broad a statement, for me the dissonance of seeing things coming full circle all too often serves as a reminder not to always follow the fashion. With this in mind the recent article in Forbes “Top 5 Leadership Development Trends for 2020” by Kevin Kruse prompted the same reflection on what goes around, comes around. More to follow on this, but for now, what are the trends listed in this helpful article?

TREND 1: A Focus on Applying and Sustaining Behaviors

TREND 2: Mobile Learning for Millennial Managers

TREND 3: Group Coaching & Democratization of Leadership Development

TREND 4: Alignment to the Engagement Survey

TREND 5: AI Becomes Invisible

In truth, those who study this topic or work in the filed will find comfort in the finer details within the article for each trend, reflecting on the obvious migration which has brought us to the current emphasis in the field of leadership development, that focuses on; millennials, their behaviours, ‘democratising coaching’, whilst aligning with relevant survey feedback and finally the current zeitgeist of AI and all its incarnations.

However, the biggest clue to change and things coming full circle lies in the reference within the article to the book The Knowing-doing Gap by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. Note, this excellent book was published in 1999, 21 years ago. This book was indeed prescient in its time and much of what it says is as relevant today as it was ahead of its time then.

So of all the trends listed above it seems the only really ‘new’ development in leadership development arises from the advent of, and inescapable distribution of, AI throughout every walk of life. Further investigation into this area reveals an excellent review published in HBR on Educating the next generation of leaders (Mar/Apr issue 2019) that summarises leadership development and the challenges to the current provision by the advent of the PLC (Personal Learning Cloud).

I would like to conclude this reflection on changes and how things come around with a few priceless words from David Bowie:

“I watch the ripples change their size, but never leave the stream of warm impermanence, and so the days float through my eyes, but still the days seem the same, and the children that….as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”