Leadership Trends: What Will the Work World Look Like Post COVID?

I turned my thoughts to what post COVID work might look like. Although the numbers of COVID cases are still high and there are a lot of variants of the virus around, vaccines present a new hope for the future. With that thought, I turned my mind to consider the question of “What will the work world look like post COVID?”

Did you know…

  • The average age of a first time Millennial manager is around 30 years of age.
  • Nearly 30% of Millennials hold managerial-level roles..
  • Millennials are also three times more likely than Baby Boomers to take responsibility for their own re-skilling, according to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report.
  • According to the Korn Ferry Institute, Millennials learn more through online development than time spent in the classroom.
  • The concept of leadership is broadening from being something saved tor senior level executives to recognizing those who are considered leaders no matter what level they are in the organization, in the community or at home. 

FYI: Boomers 1946-1964, Generation X = 1965-1980, Generation Y, also known as Millennials= 1981-1996

Leadership Development


Gone are the days of going to a conference or a training session for pure networking purposes. Organizations are being more careful about spending training dollars and want to get the most they can from those attending, because 40-80% of learning is forgotten unless it is consistently applied.

Organizations are looking for proof of learning and being able to apply learnings to daily work; they want tangible results. For example, staff may need to show that as a result of the training, their behavior has changed. This may become a part of their performance review.

The global online education market is predicted to increase by a compound annual growth rate of 9.23% from 2020 to $319.167 (US) billion in 2025. This is up from $187.877(US) billion in 2019. This means that those in the business of creating training and development content face fierce competition for limited resources, including some great free educational offerings online. The educational industry will need to add value to whatever they are selling to make it more attractive than their competitors

Leadership at every level

Organizations are investing in leadership development at every level. Recognizing and developing potential in more employees is good business because it provides a supply of capable leaders to get the work done. Also, it increases employee satisfaction with work and improves work performance.

Leaders are learners who problem solve. Learners have been shown to be more resilient, adaptable and confident. They use their skills and experiences to solve problems and become the leader. 

Skills for the future

Technical training

Training at trade colleges, apprenticeship programs, universities or through experience, helps people acquire the skills and expertise they need to enter the work world. However, expertise in technical skills will get you only so far in life. The demand for soft skills is growing, so unless you develop soft skills you will be left behind- at work and in life

Soft skills include things like emotional intelligence, creativity, adaptability, and time management. These skills are learned over time.  Mastering soft skills means that people can work together, have better working and personal relationships and greater satisfaction in life.   

Specialist vs generalist

There has been an ongoing debate about whether one should become a specialist or a generalist. Some futurists say that people should become generalists. Others say the exact opposite. Here’s the truth, work to your strengths. When you do that, you will succeed. There is room in the world for both and the world needs both. One is not better than the other. It could be that you start out as a specialist and later become a generalist or vice versa. I have been both a specialist and a generalist, neither has held me back. Both have their merits.

Organizational structure

A flatter organizational structure is more efficient, effective and can save money There is less bureaucracy which leads to quicker decision making and implementation. It also means that employees are likely to have more responsibility, better job satisfaction and higher employee engagement. A flatter organization means that there will be fewer managers and fewer formal leadership positions available in the future.  

Personal Values

Millennials are interested in working for organizations that share their values, allow them to do fulfilling work, and engage in effective leadership development. They are not particularly interested in moving up the hierarchical ladder, but in doing interesting and satisfying work. This is good news, given that the previous section talked a flatter organizational structure and fewer management positions.

COVID has affected workers and organizations alike. Some futurists say neither workers nor organizations will ever be the same. Some workers have left their organizations because of pressures at work and home.  As a result, some organizations are having difficulty attracting, managing and retaining top performers. These organizations are encouraged to focus on employee engagement and inspiration.

According to the Harvard Business Review:

  • an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a satisfied team member
  • an inspired employee is 55% more productive than an engaged employee
  • an inspired employee is more productive than a satisfied team member

So… work to inspire employees.

What inspires employees?

  • Being able to work from home, it frees up time, about 49 minutes/day on average, because employees are not commuting. Some say that remote working is here to stay because it allows for a better work life balance if work doesn’t creep into personal time.
  • Technology that allows people to be productive and engaged with coworkers and customers/stakeholders.
  • Wellbeing at work.  Some organizations are putting efforts into staff well being. Not only does this inspire staff, it improves performance and the bottom line. 

“Wellbeing is a global movement that is being recognised at the top levels of leadership. New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, recently indicated that she recognises economy and wellbeing are inextricably linked – you simply can’t have one without the other,” says Dr Lance Newey.

The relationship between organizational values and personal values

A personal mind shift

People are not staying at their jobs for life and this is resulting in less loyalty for both the employer and employee. Employees have shifted to finding work that is fulfilling and purposeful, and don’t see that jobs are for life. Changing jobs are business transactions and loyalty doesn’t play a role. Talented staff are looking to work in organizations that align with their personal values. Employee thinking has shifted, and work is valued differently.  Because there is less interest in climbing the hierarchical ladder, less loyalty, and more movement, organizations can find themselves scrambling to fill traditional managerial roles.

A recruitment mind shift

The shift is that recruitment is a two-way street. In the same fashion as organizations look for qualified candidates, candidates are looking for organizations that meet their criteria. Candidates are researching the organizational mandate, the annual report, strategic plans as well as gathering information on the organizational culture, turnover rates, employee satisfaction/engagement, and even talking to employees about their jobs and work environment.

This shift means that candidates are being more careful about where they want to work. This was my experience. After a series of bad working environments, I shifted my thinking. No longer was it acceptable to take any job offered. I started to do my own reference checks. (I realize that in the knowledge economy this is still a luxury that the service economy may not have).

BUT…. Even if you are in a situation where you feel you must take the job, chances are you will stick with it until something better comes along. Don’t let the job be the boss of your health- and that is what a bad job will do!


Continue to be open to learning new things, no matter who you are. These trends can apply to your situation no matter what type of leader you are or aspire to be.

Although Millennials are mentioned in this article a lot, this is not limited to Millennials. 

Remember that this website is about lining up your thinking to that of a leadership mindset.  Mindset and leadership are not restricted to age, gender, race, or organization

Any thoughts on the trends? What do you think? Do you agree, disagree, not sure?

Published by Diane Allen

Hi there, my name is Diane and welcome to my blog site! Leadership mindset is the mindset that embraces, vision, courage and action.

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