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4 Leadership Traits That Will Be Essential in 2016

Christmas is easily my favourite time of year, although not for the reasons you might assume. I love how the majority of people who celebrate it are infinitely happier, more generous, spend more time with their families, buy gifts or volunteer, at this time of the year compared to the rest of the year put together. If only mankind could act like this every day of the year, then maybe the world would be a better place.

Yet, I digress. Around this time last year, I wrote an article that got pretty good traction, so I’m thinking of making it an annual trend. This year, I want focus on 4 key trends I see as being essential for the workplace in 2016.

More Feedback, Less Bureaucracy

There have been huge shifts in corporate thinking over the past 18 months regarding performance reviews and appraisals. Microsoft, Dell, GE and Adobe are just some of the companies who are ditching the traditional performance review in favour of more consistent feedback throughout the year. The key here is to remove the time-consuming bureaucracy that normally comes with these programs, and make it an easier, more transparent process for all parties. For me, managers should be meeting with their employees on a regular basis anyway – at least fortnightly or monthly – so every quarter focus on giving feedback and discussing career development with each of your direct reports. Take simple notes, share them with the employee, agree any action points, and listen to any concerns.


Whether it’s new technology or systemic shocks, workplaces are having to change at lightening speeds if they want to keep up with the competition. There’s simply no time to pine for the past, where you could take 3-6 months to react to market moves or change direction. Technology is allowing these previously cumbersome initiatives to be completed in record time and companies who are slow to react will lose out. And by “lose out”, I mean fail. This requires most employees, and leaders, to learn how to adapt and upgrade their skills as this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Most employees dislike change and disruption; it upsets the status quo and comfort that we often seek at work. It forces you to learn new things and become a novice again after spending so long to maser your current role. However, it’s a skill that can be taught, and then reinforced through action, so invest time and money to ensure your company isn’t being left behind.

Speed of Execution

Similar to above, leaders need to ensure that their teams can execute faster. This doesn’t mean working longer hours, it means working smarter. Review your technology, your processes, your team and their skill sets. By all means, hire more people but make sure they’re smart (ideally smarter than you) and add value to the team. If you hire the same type of people you always have, you’re going to get the same results. Speed is everything nowadays, but you can’t compromise on quality. People are used to getting things - information, goods, gratification - in an instant, and this is no different with the good or services you offer.

Open Authentic Communication

Office politics often gets in the way of open communication, yet it’s one of the most important qualities that leaders need to display. By open, I mean sharing with their employees their concerns, feedback, positive reinforcement, praise, company developments or updates on key projects. Be curious, ask questions, and enforce a transparent culture. Some companies take it even further by sharing people’s salaries, but personally, that’s taking it too far. There’s always some stuff that shouldn’t be shared, but eliminate any “us vs them” scenarios, and you’ll see trust and engagement on the rise. This is crucial if you have a high proportion of Millennials working for you.

With many companies taking a breather over the festive period, it’s a good time for leaders to start planning for 2016 and assessing their employees’ needs. You need to ensure you have staff who are flexible and can adapt to the new situations you’re bound to face. If not, now is the time to start making a change to ensure you succeed next year.

Good luck to everyone and I wish you a successful 2016. What do you think will be essential for leaders next year?

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