5 Powerful Business & Leadership Trends You Need to Know

No matter what part of the business you are, your leadership plays not just an important role but the most important role within your company. They build the plans and strategy so that the team members can execute them. They create a vision that leads to failures and success. And that is why as part of my 2016 trends, I have chosen to share my 5 most powerful leadership trends. The human resource function is no longer a siloed entity. Its impacts touches every part of the organization. Talent is at the center and heart of it all which means that HR has the opportunity to elevate an organization.

5 Powerful Business & Leadership Trends You Need to Know

In HR we have to quit waiting for organizational leaders to wake up and give us the respect that we feel we deserve. We need to crash the boardroom and insert ourselves into the conversation because without it, our leadership isn’t seeing the full picture. They need our point of view. And they probably don’t want our point of view mostly because they don’t really have an understanding of what we in HR do at all. I’d like to blame that failure on our organizational leaders but we are equally to blame which is why now’s the time to think about the 5 most powerful leadership trends for 2016.

#1 – Talent Retention, Planning and Training

This isn’t so much a trend as now a necessity for business strategy. Companies are concerned about great talent leaving the organization for the competition and fostering that talent. Talent development and retention plans aren’t simply perks programs like Twitter’s breastmilk delivery service or some high potential program where the best corporate politicians are rewarded. We need to look at hidden retention strategies and training programs that better evaluate the skills, abilities and gifts of our current workforce. Take me for example, I have no formal marketing and communications training outside of HR. By pure accident, many failures and experimentation, I learned I had a knack for writing, marketing and communications. I had no idea or even an inkling that this was something I was gifted at. Companies need to focus on uncovering hidden gifts and fostering them in a nontraditional way. Think nontraditional. It’s the best way to find hidden talent and retain those workers. You helped them uncover new gifts and skills. They won’t forget the time and effort you took helping them find their way.

#2 – Work Flexibility

The work and business world is not a linear one. Things like flexible schedules, work sharing, telecommuting and even contract work are things that should be on the mind of every senior leader. Unfortunately, they need a creative push in the right direction. Work flexibility is another essential in finding, retaining and engaging your workforce. Employers need to look for new, different and creative ways to engage workers who are interested in entrepreneurship, leaning out (sorry Sheryl Sandberg) and having a more flexible lifestyle focusing on living in the now versus working hard with the goal of retiring when you are 65. I might suggest you give your boss an audio copy of Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Workweek. And for you, keep in mind Tim’s book and empire which includes a great podcast is greatly influencing your Millenial, and Xer employees.

#3 – Productivity

The best senior leaders are the most productive. They lead very organized and devoted lives. Not every employee or person lives their life this way. Your senior leaders are looking for ways to squeeze more hours in the day and in their business focused on positively impacting the bottom line. Senior leaders realize this bull market won’t last forever and they want to eek out every single opportunity. They’ve survived a bubble burst or two or three.

#4 – Investing in Technology

I find this one funny because senior leaders are some of the most technology adverse people I know. They have a system that works for them and it involves legal pads and dictation secretaries. They still cling to their Blackberries instead of their Droid or iPhones. They, do however, understand that in order to maximize revenue they need to invest in technology for their business not necessarily for their own personal interests and productivity. The business technology they invest in involves people so there’s a natural interest in human resources technology. However, business leaders are focused on maximizing time, money and efforts which is why they aren’t just investing in tech. They are investing in technology that improves production and drives results. I believe that is integrated technology that works together for the entire organization. HR tech needs to integrate with finance, production, marketing, sales and operations.

Senior leaders have a huge challenge on this front, as most of the most innovative technology often comes from small startups. Integration is expensive, complicated and messy. Middleware is the key to successful integration of technology.

#5 – New Markets

The best leaders are focused on the future 1, 3, 5 and even 10 years out. They’re building infrastructures and laying the groundwork investing in new markets whether geographical or product based offerings. Talent plays a critical role in new markets. We need to know the priorities and interests of our senior leadership so that we can help leverage our own programs, assets and developmental plans so that they are aligned. We need to maximize our productivity.

Posted in ,

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Craig Johnson says

    Jessica, I agree when you said “We need to look at hidden retention strategies and training programs that better evaluate the skills, abilities and gifts of our current workforce.” The #1 reason most people leave their current job is the need for “growth.” This is basic human need we all have in each of us. For me another almost magical experince can be when you allow someone to show off their skills. I learned this years ago when I was in the AF and we were laid over in Barain and I asked a fellow crew chief what a paticular thing was on a C-130 and that is when he told me “all I know is Crew Chiefs LOVE to talk about their plane.” He as so right we got a full tour of the plane and he did love to show us what he knew…I belive this to be true in our work places as well. Great Post Jess!


  1. […] Changes to industry leadership will be one of the most important 2016 workplace trends. In the past, company leaders were usually selected based on their experience and commitment to the organization. Today companies are going in a new direction, and rather than using a top down approach they are recruiting leaders who inspire and work closely with their subordinates. […]


Pin It on Pinterest