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Future of work: leaders will struggle to gain followership and trust, warns Gratton

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The Future of Work Research Consortium, led by London Business School's professor Lynda Gratton (pictured) ran its final face-to-face event in phase three last week.

Phase three of the Future of Work brought together 200 executives from companies and organisations around the world including Abbott, Aditya Birla Group, American Express, Arla Foods, BT Global Services, Centrica, Cisco, GEA Group, IATA, John Lewis, KCOM Group, Kraft Foods, ManpowerGroup, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft, Ministry of Manpower (Singapore), Novo Nordisk, Outotec, People in Aid, PepsiCo, Randstad, RBS, Sabic, Save the Children, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank, Tata Consultancy Services, TIAA - CREF, and Waitrose.

This research consortium is the first to use a methodology of co-creation that brings together academia and practice around an online community portal, surveys and diagnostics, face-to-face workshops and masterclasses and 'jams' (48-72 online conversations). Every phase has seen new ways of co-creation being added to the Consortium, with the online conversations being the novel element this year.

On 2 April 45 executives from around the world gathered in London for the final live event in phase three with many executives joining by webinar from many countries around the world for Lynda Gratton's summary of the findings from Phase three.

Speaking at the event, Gratton said: "Our leadership survey run during phase three revealed some worrying findings that organisations need to act on now in order to develop the right kind of leaders for the future. There is a significant gap between current capacity and future importance in the areas of leaders' ability to leverage new technologies, take risks and experiment, build external relationships and champion creativity.

"It is really worrying that just under 50% of our surveyed population indicate that leadership programmes are not equipping leaders with the competency of leveraging new technology, nor of taking risk and experimenting.

"So, in short, current development programmes seem to not be fostering truly open leaders who embrace new ideas, new ventures and innovation."

Gratton added: "We believe the future of leadership is about emphasising the power of the collectives, and it therefore will be crucial for leaders to promote openness and manage complex networks of people with specialist skill-sets who may not be used to collaborating across functions. If these competencies remain underdeveloped, they could limit the ability of leaders to promote innovation.

"It is also a concern that in terms of developing leadership traits, current programmes are not promoting transparency, deep expertise and authenticity. The risk gap is between 42 and 37% for these three traits, which seems high for traits that are crucial to successful organisations in the future. If these traits remain underdeveloped, leaders will struggle to gain followership and trust, particularly among Generations Y and Z."

Phase four starts in October this year.

Gratton is a professor of management practice at London Business School and bestselling author of The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here, Hot Spots: Why Some Teams, Workplaces and Organisations Buzz with Energy and Others Don't.

The Hot Spots Movement is a research and development based community that bridges academia and management practice. The Hot Spots Movement was founded and is led by Gratton.