I can’t believe how fast time has passed and that we are now just three months away from 2020! As we approach a new decade it’s time to think about leadership trends for the next era, and what the biggest drivers of business over the next 10 years will be. Below are a few tenets of leadership that are top of mind for me — and although I developed these concepts as part of my team’s planning for TiVo, a tech company with a strong innovation agenda, I believe that these leadership principles can be applicable to all organizations.
1. Future-proof your business.
The future is coming whether you like it or not. A catchphrase I’ve been hearing about business leadership over the past 10 years has been “disrupt or be disrupted” — which is the idea that companies needed to take a proactive approach to introducing innovation, even if it means up-ending their own established business model. The same concept will hold true for the next 10 years, but in a slightly different form; companies will need to keep pushing forward, being inventive, and looking around corners. But, instead of “disruption,” the new emphasis will be on collaboration.
Future-proofing is not just about disrupting the status quo, it’s also about building a collaborative ecosystem that can provide your company with long-term competitive advantages like building strategic partnerships, anticipating market evolution and shifting customer demand before it happens, and developing a culture of innovation. The most successful leaders of the next decade will not fear the future or the changes that come with it. Rather, they will embrace it. They will make their organizations future-facing, adaptable, and open to change.
2. Make your company culture a driving economic force.
Too often in business leadership discourse, organizational culture is treated as just an accidental byproduct, or only a matter for concern when talking about talent recruitment and retention. But ignoring or downplaying culture is a massive mistake. Culture is way too important to be relegated to a sideshow; culture will be at the center of your organization’s success or failure over the next 10 years.
Why? First of all, we are in a war for talent, and culture matters for talent management. It’s more important than ever to make an organization’s culture so appealing that people are eager to work there and stay there. A winning culture is a magnet for top talent. But beyond the talent management aspect, your company culture can drive results in other ways, especially if you create a culture of innovation.
Research shows that the most innovative companies have a process-driven innovation strategy, get input from diverse stakeholders, and welcome the contributions of dozens or even hundreds of collaborators. Don’t assume that innovation just happens or that innovation can only come from a few people. Innovation is a team effort and great ideas can come from anywhere. It all starts with the foundation of a strong, supportive company culture.
3. Create a balanced portfolio of revenue opportunities.
The first rule of investing is to diversify, diversify, diversify. Just as you wouldn’t want to put your life savings into a single company’s stock, your organization shouldn’t invest all of its business development resources into a few markets, sales channels, or partnerships. Part of becoming a more innovative and agile organization means embracing multiple opportunities and building a diversified portfolio of investments for future growth — while striking a balance between immediate-term, medium-term, and long-term possibilities.
The exact details of this diversified portfolio strategy might look different for each organization, but the principle is the same; look for ways to spread your risk around. Be open to different types of opportunities. Experiment with new sales channels, new partnerships, and various business models.
4. Brand building is a choice.
Don’t let the market dictate who you are and what your company stands for. You need to take proactive steps to control the message, signal your intentions, and make meaningful promises to build credibility. Like innovation, building a strong brand doesn’t just happen, it’s a process-driven choice. It might seem more challenging than ever before in today’s cacophony of 24–7 news and social media, but brand strategy and brand communications are still crucial to your company’s success. You need to convey disciplined messaging about what your company stands for, what your mission is, and what your company intends to deliver to your customers and key stakeholders. And even more importantly, you need to keep your promises to both.
5. Unlock your organization’s potential with mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a passion of mine. I practice meditation in my personal life, and I find that it helps me to feel re-centered and focused and to then be more productive at work. Mindfulness will be a popular leadership strategy for successful organizations over the next decade. There are a few ways that your organization can improve productivity with mindfulness, such as reducing the number of meetings and interruptions in the workday, encouraging employees to take little breaks for walks or to stretch, and practicing a calmer, more patient and empathetic style of management. I really believe that mindfulness is the new frontier of leadership; we are just barely starting to see the many ways that mindfulness can make work (and life) better for everyone!
I am excited about what we will see over the next decade. I hope you’ll join me in sharing and practicing these leadership concepts that will help everyone embrace the opportunities ahead with smart strategies, openness to change, and people-centered leadership. These leadership concepts and practices will help us all build a more collaborative, welcoming, and mindful culture in which everyone can do their best work and be their best selves.