Spotting three Trends of the Trends: Leadership is No. 1


Posted by Jeff Schwartz on November 15, 2018.

As we’ve charted Global Human Capital Trends over the last seven years, we are seeing the arc and evolution of the human capital agenda emerge and, more specifically, the future of HR. The trends are showing us what’s becoming more important. Three persistent “Trends of the Trends” have emerged, combined with rising trends over the last seven years. Let’s look at the first Trend of the Trends: leadership.

Our top Trend of the Trends, Leadership—more specifically, leadership development at all levels—has been a perennial issue. Our 2014 survey indicated leadership gaps at every level of the organization, with a need to broaden, deepen, and accelerate leadership development; build global workforce capabilities, energize corporate learning, and fix performance management. Traditional leadership development models are not producing leaders fast enough, or with the capabilities needed, to meet the demands of business. In 2015, nearly 9 out of 10 global HR and business leaders (86 percent) cited leadership as a top issue.

As a result, organizations have been refocusing to build versatile leaders, form leadership teams that mix different generations and varieties of leaders, and develop leaders deeper in the organization. As companies’ various models emerge, leadership needs keep evolving. Our 2017 survey found organizations clamoring for agile and diverse leaders, and companies are pushing the boundaries of their traditional leadership hierarchy to empower a new breed of leaders who can thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Most recently, the leadership imperative has trickled up, with a “symphonic C-suite” imperative to take on organizational issues as a team, creating a model of “teams leading teams” instead of perpetuating siloed, functional ownership. C-suite executives who “regularly collaborate on long-term interdependent work” are a third more likely to expect their companies to grow at 10 percent or more during the next year than respondents whose executives operate independently.1

What leadership story will emerge in the coming year? Share your views by taking this year’s survey.

Jeff SchwartzJeff Schwartz, is a principal in the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP and serves as Deloitte’s global leader for Human Capital Marketing, Eminence, and Brand, and the US leader for the Future of Work. He launched Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends research in 2011.


1 Dimple Agarwal, Josh Bersin, Gaurav Lahiri, Jeff Schwartz, Erica Volini, The rise of the social enterprise: 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends.

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