It's almost exhausting to think about all of the headlines that happened in 2017, both the good and the bad.  Many of which were related to leadership in one way or another.  With another new year upon us, the natural question is, what will happen in 2018 in and around organizational leadership?

There are countless examples of predictions made by people which came true and much more that did not. Bill Barnett a Stanford professor famously said: "Even if we could predict the future, we wouldn't believe it. Not to mention, we are so bad at predicting."

I know it's not my job or any other leader's to know the future because that's impossible.  Having said that, after interviewing 100's of experts on the Follow My Lead Podcast, and working with companies of all sizes in 2017 to help improve organizational health, I have observed a few things that I believe will begin to come true.

Companies will start to act more like universities.

This has already started but more organizations will jump on board as their competition hires and retains better talent.  As the appeal and demand for 4-year degrees continue to decrease, organizations will offer more educational opportunities to their employees to up-skill and train them. 

These educational opportunities will be made up of some combination of directive learning, elective learning, online, instructor-led, experiential, and industry conferences.  The future probably has a budget or stipend for each employee to select their own training and development options in the growing field. 

Bad managers will be phased out.

By bad managers, I mean those who aren't leaders. A recent study done by Ultimate Software found "80 percent of employees say managers are unnecessary." At the end of the day, people don't want or need someone to "manage" them. They need someone to lead them to higher levels of performance. Logan Stout said on the latest episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, "As a leader, it doesn't matter if you believe, it matters that they believe." Logan's right because, managers don't transfer belief, leaders do. Companies who allow managers and not leaders to be responsible for people will fall behind. 

More executive leaders will focus on improving culture in order to create a competitive advantage.

Some executive leaders have figured this out at companies like Chick-fil-A, Movement Mortgage, Sonic Automotive, and Southwest Airlines. The one thing the competition simply can't copy is people and their actions and behavior are what produce a company's culture. There are absolutely no shortcuts to improve a company culture so this will be a slow change but it will happen more and more.

Companies will begin bypassing the title "manager."

Anyone who is in the field of studying leaders can tell you a title doesn't make a leader. But titles still matter in hierarchical organizations, and I think the title "manager" has a negative effect on people and culture. I have started to see organizations no longer use the title of manager. It's important to note changing the title on a business card won't change behavior, but it will show the people in these roles the organization is serious about having leaders and not managers.

Millennials will start to prove they are better leaders than previous generations.

I think every great parent's goal is for their kid to exceed them in every way. That's exactly what is going to happen here. The millennial generation and Gen Z simply have a better grasp on community and collaboration because they grew up in a digital and social world. Jeanne Miester and Kerry Willyerd are experts in the study of Millenials, wrote; "millennials view work as a key part of life, not a separate activity that needs to be 'balanced' by it. For that reason, they place a strong emphasis on finding work that's personally fulfilling. They want work to afford them the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to a larger purpose. " This doesn't mean the millennial generation won't have to work on developing their leadership skills, but I believe it gives them a leg up vs prior generations because they start with desiring a deep sense of purpose and wanting to include others in that purpose. 

Sidenote: This is a blanket prediction there are incredible leaders who are Gen X or baby boomers and bad leaders who are millennials.

What do you think I will get right and more likely wrong?

Published on: Dec 28, 2017