By Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist

In line with the current buzz on leadership development, many organisations have started investing in their own leadership development programmes, where high potential individuals are handpicked to be part of exclusive activities.
While such programmes are valuable and important in equipping future leaders, HR should also consider the practices that would develop the required leadership skills in not only the selected few but also in every other individual across the organisation. In this way, the organisation is better equipped for the future as a whole, and HR is also able to see potential leaders in action and identify them for further development.

What kind of skills will bevalued in tomorrow’s leaders?

Leading Teams and Building Ecosystems

With many organisations removing hierarchies and moving towards a more flexible organisation structure that leverages networked teams, future leaders will be required to be able to lead multiple, ever-changing teams. In addition, they must also be able to build resource ecosystems within the organisation that these projectbased teams can leverage on.

Bringing People Together Through Shared Culture

As discussed in our previous issues of Real Research, the use of a contingent workforce is on the rise and this trend will only continue to grow. With such a diverse workforce, leaders of tomorrow must be able to not only engage both their full-timers and contingent workers but also bring everyone together. Leaders will need to leverage on the common ground—a shared culture—that holds the people together.

Constantly Learning and Innovating

At the rate the world is changing, a constant update of capabilities is imperative for individuals to stay relevant. Similarly, consistent innovation is vital for an organisation’s survival. Thus, future leaders must be dynamic learners equipped with the latest knowledge and skills to create and inspire innovation within the organisation.

How can HR supportthe development of these leaders?

Encourage Individualsto Take the Lead

In today’s project team-based setting where titles are of less importance than expertise, HR should encourage informal leadership. Individuals should be given the opportunity to propose projects, assemble their own teams, and take the lead. While rewards should be given based on the team’s performance to promote the team culture, an individual’s leadership should also be recognised.

Facilitate the Embodimentof Shared Culture

For leaders to be able to leverage on a strong organisational culture to bond the workforce in the future, they must first know what it is and how to live it out. As outlined by Dr. Lily Cheng and Dr. Peter Cheng in their book Real Leaders, it’s of utmost importance that an organisation’s shared culture be anchored on its core values in order to be meaningful. Thus, HR’s role here is to work with senior management in articulating the organisation’s core values and desired behaviours, communicating the desired culture to the organisation, realising the culture by aligning what's experienced with what's desired, and sustaining the culture with aligned policies and practices.

AdvocateLifelong Learning

To cultivate a learning culture, HR should start by instilling a growth mindset, where one understands the importance of lifelong learning and strives for personal growth. HR can do so by making learning more relevant and fun—through experiential activities and real life applications. Learning should also be a part of the organisation’s strategic success and embedded as part of the job.

While HR plays a major role in developing future leaders for the organisation, it's by no means only the HR department’s job to prepare and equip the next generations of leaders. Senior management needs to consider leadership development at a strategic level and provide the support needed to succeed.

What other trends have you noticed, or are already experiencing yourself? We would love to hear from you at!


  • Cheng, P. and Cheng, L. (2012). Real Leaders.
  • Deloitte University Press. (2017) 2017 Deloitte global human capital trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age.
  • Grossman, R. J. (2015, May 1). How to create a learning culture. Retrieved from news/hr-magazine/pages/0515-learning-culture.aspxOracle. (2013). Seven steps to building a high-impact learning culture. Retrieved from com/us/chro-docs/june-2013-chrodeck4-1961622.pdf