Leaders in 2030 won’t see ‘followers’, but collaborators, associates and allies







A leadership vision: followership in 2030

Imagine a group of elementary school children and fast-forward fifteen years to the time they enter the work force. What will they be like? What will they be interested in? What will inspire them and which principles will guide their choices? Which organizations will they want to work for, and what kind of employees will they turn out to be? Every attempt to describe the best leaders in 2030 should begin with asking about their followers. Knowing about the nature of their work, their values and expectations can help define key leadership skills.

The primary factor for the fundamental differences between previous and future generations of workers is the near unlimited access to information. Enabled by technology, individuals and teams in 2030 are expected to be better informed and educated than ever before as they continue to explore ways of acquiring, managing and utilizing data. Future employees will have grown up in a fully digitalized, connected and diverse world in which new forms of work habits and values will emerge. Eventually, these changes will likely transform the role of employees within the leader-follower relationship.
Fewer limitations in regards to when and how people work, the freedom to share information and learn in more democratic ways have already begun to change work principles towards collaboration flexibility, and decentralization. As the corporate ladder is often a thing of the past, employees can create their own networks and career paths instead of relying on hierarchies and position thinking. These developments are changing the nature of followership dramatically. Better access to information provides employees with deeper knowledge and enables a higher degree of intellectual autonomy and emancipation. In 2030, workers will likely expect to be part of – not subject to – leadership processes.

They should not just be followers but collaborators, associates and allies who require a new type of leadership than the generations before them.

The best leaders in 2030…

…should understand that the workforce continues to transform into an emancipated and informed entity that openly disregards traditional structures, thinks independently, acts autonomously and knows what to expect from extraordinary leaders.

More on what constitutes an extraordinary leader in this context next time!

Feedback and comments are welcome! Please email me at mailto:aderler@deloitte.com



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Andrea Derler

Leadership & Succession Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Andrea leads Bersin’s research execution team and also serves as leadership and succession management research leader for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Focused on the continued evolution of Bersin’s research capabilities, her expertise lies in research on business leadership, leadership development and learning, and related talent topics. Her work about leaders’ ideal employee received widespread media attention in Europe and has been published in the journal Leadership & Organization Development. Andrea has a doctoral degree in economics (leadership and organization) from the FernUniversity Hagen (Germany) and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz (Austria).

2 thoughts on “Leaders in 2030 won’t see ‘followers’, but collaborators, associates and allies

  1. That’s an exciting preview of the future! I think that one of the big drivers of this type of change will be the ability for people to understand, quantify, view and measure their human relationships and networks.
    Thanks for view into the future, it backs up the work that we are doing at TrustSphere which is changing the way people understand their own networks, because for the first time ever, their organizational network can be seen in real time.

  2. Great commentary. I look forward to reading your perspective regarding how leadership will change in response to a "fully digitalized, connected and diverse world" and how you will describe an extraordinary leader.

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