5 Insights Into The Future of Leadership Development (Part 1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In this series called “5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development” I will be sharing trends and learning resources that give us the broad picture of how to prepare leaders for success in a complex, connected global society. 

In a recent International Leadership Association Leadership Perspectives Webinar I shared my observations on trends that are advancing our understanding of “good leadership.” These trends are shaping how we develop leaders, moving us away from traditional approaches (that are no longer effective) and into new territory. In this first post in the series, I share my observations on broad global trends that are informing the changes in leader development.

Global Trends Informing Changes in Leader Development


  • Increased ethical awareness among consumers and a trend toward supporting ethical brands
  • Social media sharing discourages brands from using negative, unethical tactics
  • Growing awareness of the requirements for ethical leadership beyond laws and regulationslearning leader, leadership future, learning future,
  • General trend toward positive results in the social sciences
  • Increased focus on business metrics beyond the bottom line and on building Ethical Brand Value
  • Realization that our thoughts impact our actions and that we need to be intentional about our thinking and aware of our biases
  • Realization that our emotions play a more critical role in our ethics than previously understood


  • Growing awareness that values-based leadership transforms organizations and creates a competitive advantage
  • Changing leadership relationship puts more power with the employee, and more pressure on the leader to provide a positive work environment
  • Increasing globalization fuels expectations of cultural awareness and respect for differences
  • Increased value being placed on authenticity and higher levels of leadership development
  • Strong focus on human well-being combined with evidence that toxic leadership harms


  • Learning how to handle complexity  (not just learning pre-determined key knowledge points)
  • Learning how to manage a ceaseless torrent of information
  • Learning to see connections, patterns and systems
  • Integrating ethical responsibility into all aspects of leader learning

These trends compel us to move away from a traditional knowledge-based approach to leadership development toward something more deeply transformational. Watch this blog for “5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development (Part 2)”! 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

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