Heads up! 2020 is only five years away...and we all know how quickly time passes. As every leader knows, planning for the future starts now. While we don't have a crystal ball, there are trends and topics that can help us prepare.

  1. Pay attention to the Millennials. Millennials (1982-2004) are no longer a "youth market." They are the largest--and most diverse--generation in American history, representing one-third of the population. They're the first generation to grow up with the Internet; they will naturally bring technology to the workplace. According to a report commissioned by the White House, compared to previous generations, Millennials are more likely to have college and advanced degrees; marry later; stay longer with their first employer; and seek entrepreneurship sooner. They value a work-home life balance, and will not work tirelessly, as Baby Boomers have done. They also want jobs that contribute to the greater good. As consumers, they will remain loyal to the brands they grew up with. No company can afford to neglect or dismiss this important generation. If you are not already studying or hiring Millennials, start today.
  2. Think globally. This is not a new phrase, but as technology brings the world together, leaders will absolutely need to embrace cultural diversity. More than the mandatory "cultural competency" class that spends a few hours reminding employees that tolerance is important, a true corporate culture of social intelligence and cooperation will make or break a company. With increased international collaboration, everyday virtual communications will be the standard. Complacency or lack of compliance will not be tolerated in the workplace.
  3. Learn to "turn on a dime." Closely linked to the speed of technology, the ability to be nimble in corporate changes will depend on strong leadership. Leading by example, embracing new processes, and refusal to do things "because that's always how we've done it" will be critical. Leaders will need to reward novel and adaptive thinking, and insist on multi-disciplinary approaches. Perhaps office designs will shift to the open concepts used by today's progressive organizations. Pushing forward can be an enormous paradigm shift, even for small businesses.

The leaders of 2020 will be the "bridge" between now and what comes next. Employees and stakeholders will look to the leaders to guide the necessary changes that will ensure continued success. How are you preparing for the exciting future?

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