Leadership matters. And the coming decade will put every leader through constant stress tests. After selecting individuals with the required drive, passion, and vision, how do we further develop leaders for the new, highly disruptive,  future of work and business? Leaders who can lead and coach others in the art and discipline of doing less and accomplishing more.


Always been important... and are becoming more so.

  1. Develop the whole person: Emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, creatively, and more
  2. Continuously enhance listening and communication skills
  3. Continuously enhance learning, unlearning, and curiosity skills
  4. Develop skills for creating enhanced self-management teams and environments
  5. Practice principles-based leadership This includes all principles and values, but one deserves special attention during the coming decade: Diversity. Of gender, of ways of thinking, of passions, of race, nationality and language, of ability, of every kind. Only through truly diverse leadership will your organization succeed in the coming decade.


Developing leaders who will ensure that every individual is as efficient, effective, passionate, and productive as they can be. 2020 additions for the new essentials for the new future of work include...

  1. What will your legacy be? In a world that creates a lifetime’s worth of change every few years, what you do in the coming months will leave a lasting impact on more people than you can imagine – including those outside your organization, in your business ecosystem. Reimagining, and then constantly remaining focused on the legacy you wish to leave behind will be your north star – how you stay true to yourself, your passions, and your organization’s mission during constant upheaval and disruption. During our behind-closed-doors coaching moments with executives around the globe – asking them “What do you want your legacy to be?” – nearly every executive confided that how they addressed their organization’s future of work transformation would determine their success or failure in acheiving their legacy. The most common theme in those legacy discussions was preserving and leveraging the brilliance of our humanity – what makes each us uniquely us, and how we create, imagine, and how we inspire others to be their best. All executives “got” the powerful cost-efficiencies and new growth opportunities offered by AI and the coming revolution in emerging technologies. What many wrestled with, however, is how to leverage these new technologies to transform how they maximize, not squash, what makes each and every individual uniquely amazing. This will be a crucial new frontier during the 2020’s for the design and implementation of leadership development efforts.
  2. What are your three words for personal success this year? Super-simplified, ever-vigilent FOCUS. Every leader’s focus will be tested. Every leader must remain steadfastly focused. That’s the idea behind selecting just three words to determine your personal (not organizational, not business metric) success for each year.
  3. Constantly debate and examine the question, “What is a leader’s accountability for life’s precious assets?” Every directive, and every system, process, tool, and structure that your company puts in place, uses a portion of each employee’s daily 1440 minutes. (The number of minutes available to each of us in a day – never more. In today’s overloaded environments, our time and attention are among every individual’s most precious assets.) How accountable should you be for how your company uses, wastes, or enriches every individual’s time and attention? How would new accountabilities change what you build, how you build it, and what you ask people to do in the name of corporate growth and sacrifice? This is NOT about corporate efficiencies. This is about how well, or poorly, your organization’s structures, processes, measures, and management value every individual’s time and attention as their precious assets – not to be wasted, and always cherished. Leaders “get” this when it comes to every customer’s time and attention, yet rarely discuss their responsibilities for cherishing every employee’s and vendor’s time and attention.
  4. Reinvent your leadership university Old model: Leaders talking to other leaders or instructors or gurus. Maybe they also take on real-world assignments to learn practical applications. New model: Customers and frontline employees are in the pit along with executives, guiding them, challenging them, forcing them into new understandings of real-world implementation of their leadership styles and decisions. Everyone is granted permission to go beyond questioning and dialogue, into advocacy and tough-love feedback. The best executive mentors, coaches, and change agents are your own employees and customers.
  5. Get your fingernails dirty, regularly At least once a week while he was CEO, David Neeleman, the founder of of JetBlue, was called “Snack Boy,” because he was in a plane picking up the trash and serving customers their snacks. Great role model! But to ensure your employees are as efficient, effective, and productive as they can be, you’ll need to go further. Senior execs should be using their own company’s cash registers, or customer service call centres, or help desks, or employee portals, or training software, or outdated hardware that employees still use, on a regular basis. Since employees’ biggest barriers are often the very systems and tools that have been built for them, senior execs should regularly experience those barriers. That’ll get ‘em fixed a lot faster! This strategy is leadership living the principles of design thinking, which always begins with empathy – walking a mile in the end-user’s shoes.
  6. Reinvent development assignments Current career paths for up-and-coming executives include international assignments and responsibilities in different functions or business units. Great start! But to ensure they fully understand the new world of work, developing execs also need additional stints as the Fool (counsel to the senior team, there solely to speak difficult truths to power), as the New Quant Person (focused on work-design, work efficiency, and human-centred analytics), and as the New People Person (focused on developing user-centred tools and processes). Our recent future of work research found that this new era needs a deep bench of People Scientists within every area of the organization – those who understand behavioural-driven practices and data-crunching within neuroscience and related fields. These reimagined development assignments are great ways for leaders to understand ground-level implementation issues, and how to bring out the best in everyone in the organization.
  7. Seek two mentors: One half your age, one twice your age During the next decade, two colliding forces are going to rock every leader’s world: Most of the remaining baby boomers will be retired, but not really leaving the job market (creating new and unique pressures on healthcare, contract-work, and pension funds), at the same time members of Generation Z (currently 23 and younger) are entering as first-time employees (with completely different standards for information sharing and digital analytics skills than most execs are used to). These forces are then intensified when realizing that every workplace is filled with three or four different generations, each with different values, and different ways of living digitally. Seek the wisdom of a youngest-possible and an oldest-possible mentor to coach you through the intensity and meaning of these colliding forces.
  8. Courage, Curiosity (Imagination), Creativity, Empathy, and Personal Agility: Pick your top three as skills to enhance 2020 to 2030 will be a decade where the leaders who excel will do so through constant personal development in these five skills. Pick your top three based on your developmental needs and business needs, and work with mentors, coaches, and stretch assignments to constantly enhance those three skills.

About the author

Bill Jensen is an internationally-acclaimed author, speaker and thought leader who is known for extremely useful content, and his passion for making it easier for everyone to work smarter, not harder. To learn more, visit www.simplerwork.com.

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