Emerging Leaders and the  Future of Work

Mike Pelfini — 05 June 2024

Emerging leaders represent the future.  They will need new skills and a new mindset to stay ahead of the curve and thrive in a changing world. 

Emerging leaders represent the future of their organizations.  To avoid a “leadership gap,” it isn’t enough to rely solely on current skills or learned behaviors.  Organizations need to make sure they equip the next generation of leaders with forward looking skills to meet the future.  Future success means preparation now. 

Organizations seem to be getting the message.  A Gartner survey named leadership development the top priority of human resources professionals in 2024.  Demand will only grow in the coming decade, according to Future Market Insights.  And good leadership is the single best predictor of high employee engagement.  A recent Gallup study found that 70% of workforce engagement is attributable to leadership and management.  

As the fast-changing world brings new challenges and new opportunities, emerging leaders will need new skills to carry success into the future. Developing emerging leaders needs to be a top priority. 

Meeting the future

A well-known McKinsey study states that the average lifespan of a corporation has decreased by over two-thirds in the past several decades.  It stood at 61 years in 1958, 25 years in 1980, and just 18 years in 2011.  McKinsey projected that 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.  Corporations need to adapt or risk extinction.

Employee expectations are changing, too.  A Deloitte survey showed that Millennial and Gen Z employees are more driven by purpose, social responsibility, and values than the Boomer generation.  Up to 44% of the younger cohort report turning down assignments out of ethical concerns, and up to 39% have turned down employers who don’t align with their values.  

Leading the future

Leadership needs to evolve as changes accelerate. Here are some recommended new leadership types:

Adaptive leadership.  An article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) argues that the old “command and control” leadership style needs to give way to “adaptive leadership,” which values emotional intelligence, respects work-life balance, and embraces social responsibility.  

According to the HBR, adaptive leaders practice “people skills “ to elevate those around them.  They are collaborative and willing to share credit.  They look for collective wins that lead to a sustainable model of success.  That includes finding purpose and meaning in the workplace.  

Adaptive leadership also requires agility.  Emerging leaders need to be flexible to meet shifting demands.  They must regularly question their assumptions, methods, and goals to stay ahead and “thrive in complexity.”  That means being open to new ideas and daring to be “swift and bold.”  

Authentic leadership.  A recent Forbes article says that “generational diversity,” “hybrid work structures,” and technology is transforming the workplace.  “To be a successful leader today – a modern, authentic, human leader – you must amplify a unique set of skills to meet this vastly changed environment,” according to the article.

These are a few of the modern “soft skills” Forbes considers essential for future leaders:

  • Emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence (or “E.Q.”) tops the Forbes list, as it did in the HBR.  Emotional intelligence is based on self regulation and the ability to forge meaningful relationships.  Developing E.Q. in emerging leaders is imperative.
  • Inclusivity.  Generational shifts, cultural changes, and the need to collaborate across a connected world make inclusivity a workplace priority.  To get the best from every member of the team, emerging leaders need to cultivate a sense of belonging among team members.
  • Resilience.  Resilience is the companion of agility and flexibility.  Emerging leaders need to bounce back quickly from difficulties, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward.  Resilience brings the courage to adapt and change.
  • Social responsibility.  Millennials and Gen Z want a more ethical, values driven workplace, and they aren’t alone.  A study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review found that organizations with values-based cultures have “more engaged employees, more loyal customers, and better financial performance.”  A purpose driven culture helps sustain long-term success.

If you would like to learn more about supporting your organization’s emerging leaders, adapting to change, and the future of work, please contact us.


ForeMeta offers breakthrough leadership coaching to develop CEO self-leadership and leading teams and organizations.  We offer both individualized coaching or group coaching to help leaders and their people achieve greater success.  Please contact Mike@ForeMeta.com


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