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Leadership Development

How to Develop Leaders in 2018: 5 Top Trends in Leadership Development

5 Top Trends in Leadership Development

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5 trends for Leadership Development in 2018

Each year, learning and development professionals face similar questions: Where should we invest our time and budget? What development methods should be high priority this year? What leadership capabilities must we be developing? How mature are our leadership development practices?

To provide insight and input and help you answer these questions about how to develop leaders, each year FlashPoint explores upcoming leadership development trends to see what’s changing and what the implications are on how we are developing leaders.


Now, let’s talk about what these 5 top trends in leadership development are. You can download this blog as a PDF and save it for later. And don't forget to read our 2019 edition of leadership trends, digging deep on program design.

Trend One: Planned organizational structure redesigns will put more emphasis on leadership skills

This trend has been on our radar for over a year now. In 2016, redesigning organizational structure was rated as a top priority to look into and this year we see 93 percent of companies planning to take action in the next two years to modernize the shape and form of their businesses (Mercer Global Talent Trends, 2017). Most will take on the form of a flatter structure with broader spans of control and more decentralized authority.


Trend Two: Our organizations don’t just need stronger leaders, they need a new brand of leader

Teamwork-driven organizations don’t need a leader who solely focuses on his or her own area, they need a collaborative, well-networked leader with cross-functional knowledge. The next generation of leaders can nimbly adjust to complex, ambiguous situations and align and inspire their people to achieve results. (Here's our guide to key program elements for developing each level of leader.)


Trend Three: Of all the capabilities needed to achieve success, CEOS perceive leadership skills as the number one skill gap

Executive leaders are worried that leaders aren’t ready to lead their organizations toward growth. While many capabilities are required to drive outcomes, the number one skill gap perceived by these CEOs is leadership skills (Mercer Global Talent Trends, 2017).


Trend Four: Millennials need intentional leadership development now

Well past just assimilating into the workforce, many millennials are in management roles already. Many feel we aren’t developing them in their careers generally, let alone providing them with the skills they need to succeed as leaders. We need to start the development they need to succeed now. Millennials are here to stay, and they are the people leaders of today–it’s time to engage them and accelerate their professional development.


Trend Five: Program design and delivery must keep up

Only 19 percent of business leaders view leadership development programs as relevant to the issues they face today (Harvard Business Publishing, The State of Leadership Development, 2016). For many organizations, showing value and relevancy will take the form of additional reinforcement to sustain learning, personalizing development experiences, including more experience components, adding mentoring and coaching to the blend, and working to measure success and tell the story back to the business.


The time is always right to think about the future and our organizations depend on us to be prepared. Now, learning and development professionals must take our own advice; not only do our organizations need a new brand of leader, we are tasked with modeling the way as flexible, agile, and collaborative leaders who drive success and constant improvement.

Want to save this blog as a quick-reference guide for later? Download a PDF here. Check out our program design trends for 2019 here and our 2020 trends research here.


You may also want to read some of our other research into leadership and learning and development trends:

Download the top trends in leadership development program design!

Krista Skidmore

Krista Skidmore , CEO and Cofounder of FlashPoint, is passionate about all things leadership. She manages FlashPoint's strategic direction with integrity and insight.