10 Leadership Concepts You Should Watch In 2020 (From 10 Experts)

  • Brace
  • December 4, 2019
  • 12 min

Your team’s productivity starts with you and your leadership concepts. As a leader, you need all the best ideas to stay on top of employee expectations and workplace demands. To keep your leadership honed for the new and increasingly digital workplace, we asked 10 experts for their take on the essential leadership concepts for 2020. Here’s what they had to say.

“What are the leadership concepts that every manager needs to be successful in 2020?”

Listening and Empathy: More Than Mere Soft Skills

“Not saying a word and listen: An important leadership concept that should be followed in 2020” – Ketan Panda (Founder, Goodvitae)

Being a good leader means much more than giving commands. Employees need to feel heard, appreciated and respected to be truly productive and connected. For a leader, this means focusing on soft skills such as empathy, listening, and emotional awareness. If you understand your team, you can help them through tough times and turn adversity into opportunity.

The benefits include:

  • Sensing what actions would benefit their team
  • Learning from their team to harness great ideas
  • Building a supportive workplace that inspires employee engagement

Bottom-Up Leadership: Inspiration From All Levels

“I feel that leaders are going to have to start becoming more comfortable with the idea of collaboration, and I don’t just mean working together on various tasks and projects, but leadership as a whole should be less focused on an individual leader and instead, be focused on teams of people.” – Matt Edstron (CMO, GoodLife Home Loans)

Not all decisions and results have to come from above, especially in today’s teams of well-educated, specialized employees. A smart leader can take advantage of this expertise rather than working against it. Giving employees ownership of their tasks and a voice in what needs to be done, and how to do it, can provide new perspectives that give your company an edge.

The benefits include:

  • Encouraging growth and learning
  • Connecting your team to decisions for better results
  • Harnessing ideas and innovations for improved decisions

Diversity & Inclusion: The Power Of Unique Perspectives

“Inclusivity is different than diversity. We are all working on diversity – on getting more people of different backgrounds onto our teams. That’s really important. But the question of inclusivity is not about the number of people represented by each race, school, sex, etc. – it is about the degree to which those diverse individuals are truly included in the critical conversations and decision-making.” – Amie Devero (Managing Director, Amie Devero Coaching and Consulting)

Different points of view and experiences power productive decisions. More diverse teams choose better actions and can do it faster. Encouraging more diversity and inclusion in your teams and management is no longer a “nice to have” but a necessity to stay competitive.

The benefits include:

  • Up to 35% better profits
  • Harness new perspectives on old problems for more informed solutions
  • An adaptable and robust company culture built on appreciation and collaboration

New Work: Future-Ready, Human-Focused

“We want to change our mindset. We want to be more future-oriented, experiment with new ideas, have an open mind and learn from our experiments, failures and successes.” – Rohan Garg (VP Product, kununu)

The digital transformation isn’t just changing the workplace but also what employees expect from employers. Leaders need a stronger focus on development, appreciation, adaptability, and community to bind team members together and create a future-proof, successful, and above all, human workplace.

The benefits include:

  • Incorporating different work styles such as remote work and freelancing
  • Building engagement and retention to develop relationships with your team and meet them where they are
  • Ensuring a seamless transition into the automated and digital world for employee and business success

Digital Leadership: Remaining Human In A Technological World

“People crave human connection. Even in a digital age, face to face, talking on the phone, having a REAL conversation is critical to leadership.” – Jan Spence (Jan Spence & Associates)

Digital leadership is two-fold. Employees need the best tech to succeed in today’s world and a leader who can help them harness it. But they also need human connection and understanding to keep them happy and motivated. Walking this fine line is a leadership concept and skill that managers will need in the new year and beyond. Funny enough, they can use tech, like digital feedback tools, to make it easier.

The benefits include:

  • Better retention through addressing the human needs of team members in a digital age
  • Increased productivity and innovation through better tools
  • Harnessing your team’s talents by automating repetitive, simple tasks
>> Click here to learn the ins and outs of being a better leader in our Good Manager Guide. <<

Continual Coaching and Feedback: Developing Your Team From Inside

“Continual coaching is a leadership strategy that every Manager needs to be successful in 2020. This means regular, informal catch-ups with everyone on your team on a one-to-one basis frequently… This means Managers can continually support the team members through situations at work when they come up, both to address and resolve problems, encourage them to be proactive in finding solutions, get new ideas and feedback from the team member and make sure the team member always feels comfortable speaking with their Manager.” – Charlie Marchant (General Manager, Exposure Ninja)

A new year brings new challenges, especially with an increasingly digital work world. Leaders can stay on top of this by getting feedback to learn what problems and desires employees have. They can also learn new innovations from their them that improve the workplace. This helps everyone grow and adapt in the ways the company needs for success.

The benefits include:

  • Learning and addressing problems early
  • Adapting your leadership style to your team’s needs
  • Harnessing the potential of your team by developing their full talents

Adaptive Leadership: Learning To Do What’s Needed, Not What’s Been Done

“Adaptability is one of the best qualities any business leader could have. Hard skills are valuable when a company has a need for that specific skill, but adaptability will be useful in every possible case. Despite our attempts to break down success and failure into 100% repeatable results, there will always be that element of chance.” – Alexander Kehoe (Co-Founder and Operations Director, Caveni Digital Solutions)

Many managers still hold to stable structures and routinized work methods as their go-to leadership concept. And there’s still a place for that. But workplaces are becoming more dynamic and these methods may not always be the right choice. It’s essential for leaders to assess situations, learn from their employees, and be ready to get creative, rather than just trust the status quo.

The benefits include:

  • Being able to “roll with the punches”
  • Learning how to confront problems and make tailored effective solutions
  • Giving your workplace and employees the tools to sail on rather than sink when they meet the unexpected challenges that the future of work holds

Trust and Transparency: Open Communication For A Cohesive Team

“I think transparency and empathy are the keys to successful leadership in 2020. Employees need to feel like their managers relate to them on some level. If there’s no connection, no empathy, and no transparency, you’re going to see a loss in productivity and morale.” – Frank Spear (Raffle Press)

Trust is the glue that holds a workplace together and transparency is what builds it. If employees are going to own their tasks, they need to know what’s happening on all levels of the company. Leaders have to lead by example and if you’re hiding something, it sets a bad tone for your team, their mood, and work ethic. Owning your mistakes is essential to grow and innovate and, as hard as it seems, this trait starts at the top.

The benefits include:

  • Up to 50% better productivity
  • Better financial returns from teams that feel trusted and connected
  • More open, honest, and effective communication

Agile Leadership: Harnessing Your Specialized Talents

“Nowadays, I have one principle: hire professionals, let them do the job at their own terms. I try to get the best people I can so that I don’t have to worry about details anymore.” – Dmytro Okunyev (Founder, Chanty)

Today’s teams are made up of highly skilled and specialized employees. No one leader can possess all the knowledge that their staff has. To harness this, agile management gives the experts in your team the freedom to do what they do best and own their projects. While, for some leaders, it’s hard to give up control, the productivity and innovation benefits make it increasingly important in 2020.

The benefits include:

  • More time for leaders to handle important planning and organizational matters
  • Harnessing and utilizing the immense potential hidden in your team
  • Staying adaptable and innovative for the challenges of tomorrow

Consistency and Reliability: Leading By Example as a Leadership Concept

“The most important concept I believe every leader should adopt is consistency. This may seem pretty basic but it is something that I have seen both myself and many others fail at many times before. In particular, I think consistency is important when it comes to employee-manager relationship building.” – Mark Webster (Co-founder, Authority Hacker)

Sometimes great leadership concepts are about going back to the basics. You expect your team to complete their tasks on time and correctly. It’s only fair, then, to stick to your obligations. Keeping your word, promises, and appointments ensures that your team can trust you. This helps build a cohesive, productive workplace as a whole. Skipping a meeting may solve a short term problem but can have long-term consequences.

The benefits include:

  • Generating better trust which leads to better results
  • Setting good expectations in the workplace through your actions
  • Mutual support between team and management for harmonious collaboration instead of hidden conflict

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