2018 will be a year of change so it promises to be very exciting. While there are many possibilities ahead, here are seven of the key trends I see impacting our workplaces this year.

  1. The increasing importance of social development at work:

Our social group was for the company as well as for self-protection. We were born to be connected, and we thrive on it. We see the effect in our brains where areas such as the amygdala are larger in people who have big social networks. That means they experience more connectedness and social awareness.

As we’ve come to realize how important this is, we’ve seen a shift in the way organizations are structured. This trend will continue and we will see a shift from competitive workers towards collaborative teams. More importantly, we will see more attention being paid to defining the role of the individual and the team, and how the work you do is important in the organization. We’ll draw on the positive elements of social behavior to make the workplace more cohesive, creative and supportive.

  1. The rise of collective leadership

The Center for Creative Leadership has pointed out that our perception of leadership is changing. Today we don’t want to look to one “heroic leader”; we prefer to work as part of a collective leadership. That’s logical, given our human preference for working in groups.

We will see teams accepting (and expecting) more responsibility and control over their work. They will be more innovative and ready to embrace new ideas and contend with change. Each member will form part of the leadership group when their particular skills or knowledge are in demand.

It’s a shift from manager-as-leader style thinking to a manager-within-the-team approach, which will need to be incorporated into leadership training programs.

  1. Becoming aware of bias

Whether we like it or not, we all have some form of bias. The trend for 2018 will be to raise the topic and help individuals become aware of their biases and the effect they have on performance. When we realise our biases we can begin to deal with them, and control their impact on our behaviour and assumptions. Leadership training will focus on giving individuals the skills to recognise and manage conscious or unconscious bias, its effect on team communication and its restriction of innovation and engagement.

  1. Gender and leadership

Organisations have finally recognised that when they have women in management and leadership roles, they have better financial performance. There’s a dollar value return on their investment, making it worthwhile for them to investigate further. In 2017 there was a lot of attention given to understanding the role of women in leadership, and acknowledging their special brand of skill and perception.

2018 will see the trend continue. Organisations will begin building systems to encourage the emergence of female leaders, including systems and training to help women recognise their own leadership merit.

  1. Building a workplace culture for innovation

Innovation is what gives an organisation its competitive edge. 2018 will see organisations making changes to the way they look, work and behave, all in the name of encouraging innovation.

Angus Kidman on Lifehacker says that “35% of people have any kind of creative moment in the morning. The minute you get to work it plummets to 8 per cent, and it never comes up very much. Letting people work from home more, you get the equivalent of an extra day a week.”

We’ve looked on as places like Facebook and Google have built offices and developed workplace policies that look very different to our own. We will see traditional workplaces finally understanding the value of this approach.

While you might not find a slide in the office any time soon, you will see organisations loosening up about working hours, working from home and even the layout of the floorplan.

  1. Engagement in training

Figures show that employee engagement is low across the board, including with organisations training and development. This year we will see more use of technology and games as a learning and development tool. Gamification will be on the rise with recent reports quoting figures like these:

  • Over 70 percent of employees felt engagement software would help them perform better at work.
  • Over 25 percent said it would help them stay motivated.
  • 54 percent of respondents indicated that they would be more likely or much more likely to perform a task if it had game elements.

By using technology and adding game elements to training or even within the job itself, it encourages the release of dopamine, the happy chemical of the brain. When we feel happy, we work better and we’re prepared to take a few risks and try new things.

  1. Leadership development through study of neuroscience

This year we will see an increasing number of formal courses of study on leadership neuroscience becoming available. There will be more conferences to build our understanding of how our brains work and how they affect our leadership style and abilities. It is the basis of all our programs and workshops at LeadershipHQ.

So there you have it. Do you agree with me or have you spotted other neuroscience and leadership trends that we should talk about? Please share your opinion in the comments below. I’d love to know your thoughts. Check out our amazing Online Leadership Toolkit and Academy with a Module on the Neuroscience of Leadership at



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