The Biggest Leadership Trends to Know for 2020

The Biggest Leadership Trends to Know for 2020

John Eades 19/12/2019 6

Becoming a great leader requires taking proactive steps to improve your leadership capabilities. But there's more to it than that.

Engaged leaders need to stay on top of the current trends influencing their company, industry, employees and themselves. To ensure that you’re ready, focus on these five (plus a bonus) leadership trends in 2020:

1. Increase in Flexible Time 

The experimentation of a 4-day workweek has begun. Microsoft Japan’s 4 Day workweek improved performance by 40%, and Shake Shack’s 4-Day Manager workweek was a solution for labor costs. 

While there is no doubt about the financial advantages of shorter workweeks, employees are looking for more flexibility in their life. With 5G on the horizon and phones as powerful as computers used to be, there is no reason this trend won’t skyrocket in popularity. A recent study showed that 90% of employees said flexible arrangements would increase morale. 

Leaders not only need to be open to looking for ways to give their teams more flexibility, but they should be investing in technology that helps support them be productive whenever and wherever and they are working. 

2. Learning to Lead Remote Workers

The first trend is feeding the second trend because as flexible scheduling increases, so does the number of people who work remote. A recent study reported 66% of companies to allow remote work, and 16% are fully remote. 

With the reduced cost for employers and reduced commute times for employees, this trend will continue to skyrocket. As beneficial as it can be, leading remote team members has unique challenges versus leading a team working in the same space every day.  

Here are a few of my favorite strategies from a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast:

  • Remember remote team members are human
  • Build and maintain trust-based relationships
  • Set clear standards
  • Constantly communicate culture
  • Get them together face-to-face

3. More and More Accountability

Accountability and radical transparency are buzzwords right now because we need more of it in our organizations. As quickly as the news travels (thanks twitter), executive leaders can’t afford to hoard critical information from their employees. On the flip side, an increase in flexibility and remote work is ratcheting up the need for personal accountability in employees and managers. 

You will see more and more training and development opportunities for managers to improve their skills around accountability and having direct dialogues.  

4. Increase in Female Leaders

A global study of women in management by Catalyst in 2019 showed that the number of women in senior roles globally is increasing incrementally. However, 29% of senior management roles are held by women, the highest number ever on record.

A report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics found a direct correlation between female leadership and profitability. According to the report, "A profitable firm at which 30 percent of leaders are women could expect to add more than 1 percentage point to its net margin compared with an otherwise similar firm with no female leaders."

Women are effective and productive in positions of leadership. The challenge to Human Resource departments and organizations is helping develop their leadership skills so they can promote women leaders from within. In our business at LearnLoft, we have seen a significant increase in educational opportunities for women, which we expect to continue. It also doesn’t hurt to have some incredible role models such as Rachel Hollis, Sarah Blakely, and Arianna Huffington, to name a few.  

5. Employees Developing New Skills

As quickly as AI and Bots are progressing, many jobs will continue to evaporate. As I wrote in Building the Best, “We live in a world that’s constantly evolving, and as people grow or roles morph, people need to acquire new skills.”

Instead of chalking up massive layoffs to employees, leaders will need to help develop new skills in these people. Peyton Manning famously said, "the most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable." While leaders can't make people develop new skills, they must influence and challenge them to take the necessary steps.

 Large organizations will eventually look like current universities, and they will train workers out of high school instead of them going to college. In the meantime, we need leaders to have their coaching and development hat on at all times.  

Bonus 6. Human Resources for the Win

Human Resources professionals will continue their climb to being more strategic and important in organizations. Instead of simply being called in for hiring and firing decisions, they will play a major role in business decisions and making organizations more authentic and human.

Are you poised to lead your team in the right direction in 2020? As you learn more about current trends and apply them appropriately to your leadership or company, you can have confidence in the course of you're on.

What leadership trends are you seeing that I might have missed?

Elevate the Way You LeadBuilding the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. It was named the #1 Best New Management Books to Read by Book Authority. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

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  • Mandy Hughes

    Leadership is changing throughout time

  • Eric Nagel

    Today's employees demand more freedom of choice than previous generations

  • Claire O'Connell

    Remote working and flexible hours are becoming more and more of the norm.

  • Adam Wood

    Organizations need to identify that technology needs to be integrated into the core of their work culture.

  • Paul Cockley

    Nothing is set in stone anymore, nothing is truly certain.

  • Kelly Krauss

    The workplace will constantly continue to evolve.

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on, LinkedIn Pulse,,, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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