Leadership 2030: A Peek into the Not-So-Distant Corporate Future

By Ian GoverMarch 18, 2014

A new study from management consulting firm Hay Group looks at how you can expect leadership to change by 2030.  In this post we’ll examine some of the main findings, connect them to other research, and explore what they mean for your business and your career.

Farewell, Alpha Male

The study envisages an age of “post-heroic” leadership. That means a shift away from reliance on dominant, typically male leaders who are expected to know all the answers and guide everyone else on what to do.

Like many of the trends in the study, this shift is already underway. Research has demonstrated the importance of emotional intelligence and a more inclusive form of leadership, noting that it leads to lower stress levels, higher job satisfaction, higher organizational commitment and increased creativity among employees.

Embrace Asian Leadership

Daniel Goleman has been writing about “affiliative leadership” for years now. This leadership style is less about coercion, and more about creating a positive climate for others to participate in decision-making. The authors of Leadership 2030, however, say that this style is more common in Asia than in the US. They forecast that Asian companies will become more powerful players in the global economy, and that the affiliative style of leadership will gain ground as a result.


Leadership 2030 predicts big shifts in the way the world is organized and the way companies do business. As the middle class expands to two billion people worldwide, companies will have to become more global in their outlook, and also more decentralized. Local leaders will have to be given more autonomy in dealing with local markets – it won’t be feasible for a truly global organization to run everything from a New York or San Francisco headquarters.

Forget About Company Loyalty

The statistics on employee loyalty already make grim reading: one in three employees plan to leave their current job by the end of the year, and 76% would leave if the right opportunity came along.

Right now, companies are searching for new ways to boost loyalty, but this study says that by 2030, it will be “a battle that leaders can only lose.” Instead of trying to tie workers to a company, it says, leaders should work to inspire personal loyalty, so that they have a network of people who are loyal to them and will help them, even if they don’t report to them any more.

Be Flexible

Whereas the Baby Boomer generation wanted to climb the corporate ladder, the Leadership 2030 authors suggest that the next generation has “less and less interest in doing this.” Companies may need to devise alternative career paths, they suggest, providing jobs to suit people who have skills and ambitions – but don’t want to manage others. They’re looking for more from their careers than just promotions and money, and this trend is set to increase.

This fits in with a subject we explored recently: how to hold onto your talented young employees. We looked at research suggesting millennials have different career priorities than previous generations, and how to respond. Flexibility is one approach, but mentoring is another: the research says lack of mentoring is a key reason why young employees switch jobs.

A bonus is that mentoring young employees will alert you to what they value, and help you adapt to what the 2030 generation expects.

Topics: Leadership

Ian Gover

Ian Gover

Co-Founder at Everwise

About the Author

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