Key leadership trends to implement in 2021

We are living in disruptive times. The old must make way for the new as business, industry, and commerce undergo a paradigm shift. In a similar vein, leadership too is required to adapt to the times that we live in. Some of these are organic changes to leadership styles whereas others are necessary to thrive in the new normal.

The business landscape in 2021 is set to be greatly influenced by the following trends, as per research by the University of Queensland.

Fostering a conducive culture in remote teams

 Remote work and cloud adoption have become a critical facet of business continuity in the new normal. For leaders, the challenge is greater when it comes to a remote-working environment. They have to ensure that the communication via technology is as effective as communicating in-person.  Leaders have to ensure that teams work in sync and this includes monitoring disengaged members. Assess communication gaps, team challenges, white noise, and make sure that a cohesive working environment is created and nurtured.  They also need to keep tabs on team dynamics which is more challenging in a virtual environment. Leaders must ensure that the morale of individual team members is not affected and behaviour like cyber-ostracism is nipped in the bud. 

Perceiving change positive  as an opportunity

Leaders must have a keen understanding of changes and their implications. For instance, the recent pandemic had some immediate socio-economic changes but not many perceived how disruptive it truly was.  The few organizations that prepared for the worst and realized the socio-cultural, macroeconomic, and regulatory changes could also leverage the opportunists that these changes brought,  far better than that of their peers. As a result they were able to act faster and focus on bringing innovative solutions to the fore.  Organizations and leaders who perceived these changes also adapted to the market conditions better. 

Focus on well-being leadership

This is a leadership approach  that emphasizes on well-being to impel performance. It is in contrast to the conventional view that only economic outcomes determine success. Well-being leadership is a global movement that has acquired momentum during the new normal.  The crux of this leadership approach is that wellbeing and the economy are inextricably linked. There are eight components to well-being leadershop: psychological, physical, material, economic, environmental, spiritual, cultural and social. Wellbeing leadership focuses on getting the outcomes for all of the eight components and strike a balance between them. 

A triple bottom line approach

Businesses today must espouse a multi-faceted approach: They must place equal emphasis on environmental and social implications apart from the financial ones. This three-tier approach to business is not new and has been embraced by many organizations for the past 10 years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to increase its importance.  A triple bottom line approach is critical indicator of a sustainable business. It helps businesses imbibe resilience and continuity, which is the need of the hour. Leaders today find themselves challenged on multiple fronts: financial constraints, employee welfare. Supply chain integrity, sudden fluctuations in demand and supply, and policy changes among others. Leaders who do not implement the triple bottom line approach shall find that their business is less likely to cope with disruptions, in the long run.


Every crisis is an opportunity to transform for the better. Businesses today are facing challenges on multiple fronts that are fairly daunting. However, the organizations that survive and thrive are the ones with more resilient business models and leadership. Adapting to the new normal is not only about strong leaders and effective leadership, it is about a core identity shift for long term business success.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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