As our economy continues to recover from the severe economic downturn, there are many interesting leadership and talent management trends emerging. Vantage’s work with organizations large and small allows us to see some potential trends in the leadership and talent space and we’ve highlighted six of them for you to check out.


1. The War for Talent is Changing

While the war for top talent never really went away during the recession, now that the economy is improving, the challenge to attract and retain top talent is becoming more intense. With most organizations facing a talent pipeline shortage, this may be the most critical people-issue facing companies over the next several years. In a 2015 Forbes article by George Bradt, ‘How to Win the War for Top Talent in 2015’, he noted that a strengthening economy means the war for talent has shifted, giving more employees more options and employers less. Organizations must now deal with the society of ‘free agent’ employees that they have created.

2. The Loyalty Reset

Speaking of the ‘free agent’ employee, a new career model has been developing over the past two decades. Long gone are the days of loyalty, stability, pensions and long term retention. A new ‘deal’ has emerged between employees and their employers that can be best summed up by a quote from Nick, a high potential Millennial who works for a large west coast organization: “I don’t expect to (or even want to) stay with the same company for my entire career so I need to build my portfolio of skills to make me marketable for my next job and company. I want my company to invest in my learning and growth as a professional. And, in return, I will work as hard as I can” (Check out this post on developing millennials for more on the topic).  And, if you think this is just a newer generation mindset, think again. Hardened by the continual downsizings, restructurings and acquisitions, Baby Boomers have also adopted this new employment mindset.

3. The Demographic Shift in the Workforce

In April, 2016, Pew Research reported that millennials (ages 18-35) are now America’s largest living generation, surpassing Baby Boomers for the first time. The U.S. Department of Labor reported in their publication Futurework that workforce representation by minorities and women is on the rise. Understanding the different drivers, motivations and needs of this changing workforce is an emerging challenge for leaders everywhere.

4. Developing Others becomes a Key Competency

There seems to be a recent push by many organizations to re-evaluate the investment / return of traditional performance management processes. As Deloitte reported in their 2015 Human Capital Trends report: “Companies are redefining the way they set goals and evaluate performance, focusing heavily on coaching and feedback.  Today’s organizations should closely examine their performance processes and push toward simplification and strengths-based assessment and coaching. The days of traditional appraisals and forced ranking are coming to an end; performance management is now a tool for greater employee engagement”. Thus, ‘developing others’ promises to be a critical leadership competency for most organizations going forward.

5. A New Work Culture: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage

Last year, in our post Our Business Model is Under Attack, we shared insights from interviews with sixteen diverse organizations about their unique business challenges and corresponding expectations for leaders. All of the interviewed organizations expressed a similar concern – their business model was constantly being challenged by a dynamic and global marketplace driven by heightened customer expectations, fierce competition and fast moving technology changes.  To meet these challenges, each organization was attempting to re-configure their critical leadership competencies to drive a more innovative and collaborative culture, while striving to build and sustain an engaged workforce. Those that are successful in building a collaborative, innovative and engaged culture will likely win in the marketplace.

6. The Importance of the Team at the Top

With so much churn, change and uncertainty, clarity and unity on executive leadership teams about strategy, direction and alignment has never been more important.  And if there is not consensus on this team, how can there be in the rest of the organization?  Over the past couple of years, Vantage has had the opportunity to peer into the world of senior leadership teams via our High Performing Team Solutions and found five themes of that drive superior senior team performance.


We would love to hear your thoughts and reaction to our observations.

  • How are these factor impacting your particular organization?
  • What strategies do you have in place to address these challenges?
  • What are some other leadership and talent management challenges within your organization?