Archives for September 2021

The Future Leader

The Future Leader

Content Team

Organisational leadership has been under scrutiny like never before. From managing the safety of business and people, to dealing with financial pressures and the impact of societal issues, leaders and leadership styles have been tested to breaking point. And the challenges aren’t over. Managing the transition to new ways of working won’t be possible without strong, capable leaders. So, what does leadership of the future look like, and how will our organisations be set up?

person leaning on table during a meeting

Emotional intelligence

Caught in an ever-widening crisis, leadership has been about communication, compassion, and calmness. The leadership teams that have got it right have focused on being open with their people about the unique challenges the business world has faced, have listened to what their employees have needed to survive and have remained level-headed.

In among this, it’s easy to forget those that got things wrong. Pub chain Wetherspoons’ decision to pay employees only 80% of their wages until government furlough schemes were in place was condemned, while Richard Branson’s call for a government bailout of Virgin Atlantic, while employees were on unpaid leave, was a bad look.

Perhaps the biggest change has been the rise of emotional intelligence (EQ) as a key quality in leaders. Defined as the ability to identify and manage your own and others’ emotions, EQ is a crucial differentiator in high-level positions.

The pandemic has created a unique situation where leaders need to be more in tune with their teams than ever before. Faced with myriad uncertainties, employees want to be valued, heard and understood. They need a deeper connection to their leaders and organisations – and the best executives realise this.

Expert commentary

In our recent whitepaper: Work – A Paradigm Shift, Adam Kingl, academic and author of Next Generation Leadership, explains how the next generation believes leadership is about reminding employees of the mission and values of the organisation so that they can prioritise the work they do. Doing so creates a golden thread behind why someone chooses to work for an organisation and the work they do. By helping an individual employee achieve their personal goals, they help the organisation achieve theirs.

Human-centric leadership is about changing your priorities to focus on the human motivations that drive work. It’s about being relevant to the work of the future. To read his full commentary and advice, click here to download the whitepaper for free.

Leadership styles

If the need for stronger connections at work has taught us anything, it is that the era of command-and-control leadership is over. But what leadership styles will emerge from the post-COVID era?

Leadership in crises follow a three-stage structure: responding to the problem, recovering, and thriving in ‘the new normal’. In the respond stage, leaders need to show both empathy and decisiveness while in the recover stage it’s about re-establishing the new ways of working with a collaborative approach.

Hudson RPO Employees Gathering

The impact of Gen Z on the workforce adds to this. They want to express ideas and be heard. Simply telling them what to do is unlikely to retain them and allow them to thrive. All this means that the skills leaders need for the future are evolving. The future leaders will need new skills.

Author Jacob Morgan who interviewed 140 CEO’s around the world for his book, believes that traits as being globally minded, intellectually curious and a part of your team rather than just leading it, will define good leadership in the future.

It also means that organisational structures are evolving. Flatter, less hierarchical structures allow organisations to be more flexible and innovative, as well as more responsive. And while not all businesses will follow, there will be a movement towards less bureaucracy and more agile, project-based working.

Corporate transparency

Organisations are no longer simply businesses where people work – they are now brands that need to express their own values and positions in society. Social issues, such as the Black Lives Matter protests and environmental concerns are increasingly affecting businesses, with leaders needing to give the right messages to articulate their organisation’s values. Diversity and inclusion has always been important to HR and recruitment leaders, but the issue is now permeating the very top of executive teams – even if those leaders aren’t as diverse as they could be. Why? Because customers and candidates demand it.

To read more about this including the case studies of Tate & Lyle sugars and M&G plc, and commentary of Susanne Braun, professor in leadership at Durham business school, click here to download the full whitepaper for free.


The common thread linking all these issues is communication. Leadership of the future requires excellent communication, whether to influence your people to go with you, reassure them in the face of difficulties or update them on where the business stands.

During the COVID-19 pandemic many leaders found that the best approach was to over-communicate, rather than risk under-communicating. With remote working, this took many forms, from video-conferencing and weekly emails, to – as one client discussed – buying text messaging software to keep factory workers up to date with the business’s response to COVID-19.

person in zoom meeting

But how do you ensure you get your message across? For future leaders, effective communication is about fostering a sense of teamship and community within their employees, while ensuring clarity over roles, projects and outcomes.

Hudson RPO

Content Team

The Hudson RPO Content Team is made up of experts within the Talent Acquisition industry across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. They provide educational and critical business insights in the form of research reports, articles, news, videos, podcasts, and more. The team ensures high-quality content that helps all readers make talent decisions with confidence.

Related articles

The Future Employee

The Future Employee

Content Team

Generation Z (born in the early 1990s to 2000s) are already the biggest percentage of our global population. Just as baby boomers and millennials changed the way we work and what we expect from it, so too will Gen Z with their focus on skills development and engaging work. Enforced working from home has also changed how generations view work. Some employees have enjoyed the ability to spend more time with family, work at their own pace, while others deal with the loneliness and claustrophobia of working in cramped flats and shared houses. Bringing competing desires together and rebuilding organisational culture will be a challenge, particularly as we live and work longer. So, what does the future employee look like?

two Asian co-workers laughing
Just as baby boomers and millennials changed the way we work and what we expect from it, so too will Gen Z.

Changing demographics

One of the main drivers behind the ageing workforce is that we are all living longer. According to the Resolution Foundation’s 2019 paper Ageing, fast and slow, men born today in the UK can expect to live 8.4 years longer and women 6.1 years longer than in the 1980s. Around half of children born after the millennium can expect to live to 100 years of age.

The impact of this is two-fold. First, people are staying in work longer than previously. There are now 185% more over-65’s in the workforce than there were in 1992. The average employee in the UK is in their 40s, with one in three workers aged 50 or over. Attracting, retaining, and reskilling more mature employees will be a key challenge to businesses in the coming years.

Secondly, there is the integration of Gen Z into the workforce. While generalisations about any generational cohort should be taken with a pinch of salt, there are some things that mark them out.

The most obvious factor is that Gen Z is a digitally native generation, and its members have never known a world without the internet or mobile phones. Gen Z are diverse and open to researching new ideas. Information is at the touch of the button and knowing why they are doing something is more important than simply doing it. If a Gen Zer is going to work for 50 years, they want to know why. Organisations will increasingly need to articulate their brand, standpoint on global issues and motivations. 

co-workers sitting at table
Attracting, retaining, and reskilling more mature employees will be a key challenge to businesses in the coming years.

Expert commentary

Emma Birchall, MD, from Hot Spots Movement explains that when you look at the impact of the pandemic on Gen Z, you can see two competing trends. Firstly, Gen Z is living in a time of huge instability. Unemployment has hit younger people especially, even more so in roles in the leisure and entertainment industries. Going forward, she expects they will want to manage their lives in a way that assumes employers may not want to keep them around for a length of time. They won’t rely on job security in the way you could a couple of generations ago. On the other side, it has been an important time for organisations to show their true colours. COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and gender pay gaps have been the real test: are they who they say they are? The element of purpose and meaning in work has become stronger among the section of Gen Z who had a choice about where they’re going to work. For Emma’s full commentary, and the case studies of our clients Two Sisters Food Group and LV=, download the full report here.
Future employee graphic

Employee wellbeing and psychological safety

During the pandemic, remote working and the very real threat of illness have thrust mental health and emotional wellbeing into the spotlight like never before. Most organisations have reacted in a similar way. The first wave of lockdowns saw organisations focus on ensuring employees were able to continue working remotely, whether through supplying office equipment or moving data to cloud servers.

Next came a focus on the individual circumstances of employees. This saw businesses offering split working hours for parents, coffee catchups for those working alone and webinars and classes to alleviate stress.

As the pandemic enters a second year, businesses are now looking into the future. How can they ensure their employees feel supported to keep working, whether remotely or in preparation for a return to the office? How much has our collective experience changed what we want from work?

The true answer is that no one quite knows yet. However, there are practical steps businesses can take to support their employees, such as planning phases returns, introducing temperature checks and lateral flow testing, and redesigning office layouts to minimise anxiety. But the bigger future challenge will be around psychological safety in the workplace. Recent months have been all about fear: illness, job losses, recession, loneliness. Businesses will have to create an environment where employees feel able to innovate, challenge and disrupt, as businesses cautiously look into the future.

Future skills

The acceleration of digital transformation has also accelerated the skills profile organisations need. According to the World Economic Forum, there are four key skill types for the future of work:
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-management
  • Working with people
  • Technology use and development
Within these, innovation, influencing, critical thinking and active learning stand out as skills organisations need to develop. Greater adoption of technology over the coming years means that the more in-demand skills will be social, emotional, and technical, as machines take over repetitive and basic tasks.
woman in meeting holding a folder
There are four key skill types for the future of work: problem-solving, self-management, working with people and technology use & development.

However, HR leaders have repeatedly found these skills harder to recruit. The organisations we spoke to for our report: Work – A Paradigm Shift that is available and free to download here, are certainly aware of potential skills gaps within their talent. The challenge is attracting candidates in a competitive market. The growth of remote working has also impacted on certain companies, as they lose potential recruits to organisations in other cities and even countries. For employees, remote working has the chance to open up new avenues and opportunities.

Learning & Development

Perhaps the solution to the skills crisis lies within. Gen Z – with an eye on the 100-year life- are motivated by the chance to develop new skills. The question is how to deliver that training?

For Gen-Z, the key lies in delivering bitesize learning that they can work through at their own pace. Hudson RPO has recently implemented this format with Social Talent, reducing our ramp-up times by over 66%. Microlearning tools and software could be the best way to encourage younger employees to upskill, while for existing employees it might be more about reskilling into new areas. In the next 5 years, it is predicted that a staggering 50% of employees will need to reskill to meet the demands of automation and artificial intelligence on our jobs. Another reason why skills such as resilience, adaptability, and innovation are so vital. To read more about the future employee, download our free to download report here.

Hudson RPO

Content Team

The Hudson RPO Content Team is made up of experts within the Talent Acquisition industry across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. They provide educational and critical business insights in the form of research reports, articles, news, videos, podcasts, and more. The team ensures high-quality content that helps all readers make talent decisions with confidence.

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