What it takes to be a great leader in 2018

As our society evolves, so must our leaders. Have you thought about which direction you’re going to take this year?

Whether you’re leading a team or an entire business – being a leader allows you to make important decisions that can make real change possible.

As we approach the turn of the decade, there is a noticeable shift in what we have come to expect from our leaders, managers and CEOs. Leadership qualities must be nurtured in order to maintain their influence, and we’re seeing many successful leaders taking on new approaches to stay in the game.

Here are five directions that leadership is heading towards in 2018:

Balancing work, life and family

How you live your life is equally important as what you accomplish in life, and adopting a balanced approach is increasingly becoming the norm even for successful CEOs. Carolyn Creswell, the founder of Carman’s Fine Foods says “I’m proud to say that I run a company and I’m a good mother.”

She had bought Carman’s for $1000 when she was a university student and it is now worth $83 million. Carman’s workplace has a kids room so parents can bring sick children to work, and Creswell – who is busy with her four kids’ activities also encourages employees to take time off for sports days and assemblies.

Greater empathy

There is a socio-cultural shift taking place that favours relationship building above all else, and part of building relationships is empathising with others. With the trend moving more towards inclusiveness and compassion, leaders who exhibit greater empathy are seen as more competent performers according to a study by the CCL.

Empathy is shown to promote an environment of support where employees can comfortably work alongside each other and reach out to their managers with ideas, issues or concerns. It also establishes better collaboration among teams.

More transparency

Trust is an important factor when it comes to leadership, and building that trust isn’t always easy. Transparency as it relates to leadership, is the degree of honesty and openness your employees can expect from you. According to Michael A. Crumpton, leaders must “own up to the bad news… being up front about that is important to earning trust.” This commitment to transparency spreads across the wider company culture, promoting honesty among all team members. Some of which may try out some on their time off work.

More women in leadership roles

While women in leadership has been a topic for some time, it seems that we are finally getting somewhere, with reports that female leadership is increasing around the world. 13 additional countries have had female leaders who have held office for less than a year.

One of the main reasons this is a huge benefit for business is that it creates more diverse problem solving abilities. Women are more likely to take a collaborative approach to a problem and get their team involved, while also suggesting new methods to help reach organisational goals.

Embracing technologies and trends

It has always been important for leaders to keep an eye on emerging technologies and how they can assist their teams, however the rapid advancement of technology in the last five years has made it difficult to keep track.

Leaders will need to start investing more in training, learning management systems, and stay on top of digital performance tools. It’s also important to develop a stronger social media presence and maintain a website to establish and market your personal brand.

True leaders have the power to influence people and the broader culture in ways that not many people can. It’s important to remember that leadership is something that can be learned. “Many people would be surprised to learn that great leaders aren’t born, they’re made,” says Alison Vidotto, MBA and author of 22 Leadership Fundamentals.

“Leadership is something that we can learn with improvement and keen self-awareness.”

Emily Gorsky is a freelance writer focusing on career, education and personal finance. She strongly believes in living a balanced life. Her mission is to inspire others to engage in self-motivated learning and build their own path to success.