Leadership megatrends revisited

Leadership megatrends revisited

Three trends have shown a significant impact on my developmental work; maybe you too will find these impactful.

In December 2016, Jeff Boss contributed a trend piece for Forbes magazine in which he outlined seven megatrends in leadership for 2017. So, how have some of those been panning out? I can say from my own experience, three of the seven trends have shown a significant impact on my developmental work, and maybe you will find these impactful as well for your own unique situation. These are per­sonal development, nurturing curiosity and networks.

Taking each in turn, here’s what’s of significance.

Personal development

No matter whether times are good or bad, I believe investing in yourself or your people sets you up better for the future. This isn’t about simply spending a set ‘budget’ or checking off a tick list as is the want of many human resource departments to demonstrate their value. Instead, like I have, and perhaps other firms too should always look into the short and medium-term value of any training spend.

Every year, we commit about one per cent to three per cent of our gross revenue to personal development. This often leads to the acquisition of a new toolkit to help our clients, or in some cases, get clarity on a new vertical line of revenue-generating products. Consider it seeding for the future. In reality what happens is when times are bad, this is the easiest thing for CFOs to cut back on and improve the numbers. In good times, who’s got time to release staff to learn and grow? Both approaches are shortsighted. If you want to cut costs; look at the RoI of each programme based on short, medium and long-term benefits and fiercely guard the great programmes and solutions that help retain good staff and grow existing ones.

Nurturing curiosity

It benefits organisations to innovate constantly, and you can’t have that without encouraging a sense of curios­ity. But curiosity in trying new things, questioning the status quo, etc., requires a degree of corporate courage. A practical way to approach it is to veer to saying ‘yes’ rather than no, after assessing some of the possible RoI on the proposal; as well as the dynamics it might produce when a cross-divi­sional team come together to work on the project. Third, consider the extent to which it might impact core operations and revenues.

This year, I’m exploring a totally new area of business for me – a possible new adjacent content offering – a combined home study programme on video and high-ticket small group mentoring for experts and professionals who are in the business of speaking, train­ing and consulting. I’ve discovered many individuals who are rock­stars in niches I have never heard of – including individuals who are grossing $500 million annually in sales from Youtube videos. It’s simply amazing entering the world of online content marketing and learning what it takes to generate leads and convert them.


As a natural progression from Points 1 and 2, my focus this year on developing content market­ing online is not only the need to get coaching myself in areas that are not my strengths but to form more networks. These networks are networks that support mutual learning as well as possible joint ventures. These ventures work well when we have a shared market and each of us brings something that the other doesn’t have to make the overall offering better for the customer.

It’s the reason why a well-known sports car com­pany might still want to offer a special range of their cars equipped with Recaro seats. Having Recaro, a seat-making specialist firm, make seats enhances the offering rather than detracts from the sports car manufacturer’s brand.

Look into your own operations. What networks with other companies, including some in which you might be in “co-opetition”, are worth building? One of the underly­ing reasons, according to an INSEAD report several years ago that led to RIM (or Blackberry) failing to adapt to the changing marketplace was the fact that they were very under-networked. Blackberry had perhaps four to five key technology partners in their interlinked network. Samsung, by comparison, had about 35 (!). This allowed the Samsung team to cross-pollinate ideas, learn from others, as well as offer mutually advantageous projects.

So perhaps you might want to do a stocktaking, going into the last half of 2017, as to what kind of personal development has been worthwhile this year. Have you stopped sharpening the saw because you were too busy sawing logs? Have you refused to question certain assumptions held by your team? And then, what about networks that matter? How are your own personal networks of ad hoc advisors, mentors, and LinkedIn tribes in which you are a member? It all counts.

Meet the author:

David Lim is a veteran Mt Everest expedition leader, motivational speaker and meeting architect for clients wanting steak and sizzles in the face of increasingly demanding and distracted audiences. Send him your queries at contact@davidlimspeaks.com