Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 8


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


Leadership development continues to be a challenge year after year. In 2017, a focus on “digital leadership” and rethinking the leadership pipeline will be critical to addressing this perennial problem.


Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention

One of the most important things HR organizations should do is to make sure that the organization has a ready supply of strong, well-aligned leaders. Leadership development (which is more than a $14 billion industry33) remains a high priority for HR and continues to be a challenge every year.

In our 2016 Human Capital Trends study, we found an increasing priority in this area (90 percent of companies rate it “critical” or “important,” and the percent rating it “urgent” increased by 15 percent).34 I believe there are many reasons for this change— and most come down to the radical change in management styles and philosophies we have to deal with today. Let me highlight a few of the issues that are expected to change the market in 2017.

  • Millennials are now leaders (more than 50 percent of them have four or more direct reports) and our new research35 shows that they do not aspire to “mimic” the styles of older senior leaders. So they are essentially reinventing the role.
  • Many large companies continue to lag in their investments in new leaders. Most Millennials believe that they are not getting the development they need and only 15 percent of companies believe they have a strong Millennial-focused leadership program.36
  • Our newest research on high-impact leadership37 shows that formal training tends to be the least valuable way to build leaders—a focus on culture, exposure38, organizational context39, and continuous feedback and coaching is needed. Fewer than 10 percent of companies have reached Level 4 in our new Leadership Maturity Model (see Figure 15), so we have a lot of work to do. (This really makes a difference—companies that adopt a “systemic leadership” approach—Level 4

Maturity—are generating 37 percent higher revenue per employee and are 9 percent more profitable.40)

Figure 15 - The Leadership Maturity Model - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.

  • “Digital leadership,” which represents the way we manage companies in the new digital era, is different. Our research shows that highly effective companies today focus on agility, team-centric performance, rapid talent mobility, continuous learning, and pushing to deliver products faster in a more iterative way. The older models of leadership in which leaders were expected to set strategy and lock down goals are simply not keeping up. So many of the traditional leadership models are being reinvented.41

In 2017, I do not believe this large and complex market will be reinvented—but I do believe we will see a large push for new leadership models, new development strategies, and a much more significant focus on building leadership skills among younger employees.


We should push young people into leadership roles, give them the support they need, and coach them so they can grow and improve.


Remember that leadership is learned by doing. We should push young people into leadership roles, give them the support they need, and coach them so they can grow and improve. The traditional model of identifying leaders through a nine-box grid and then waiting until they are “ready to lead” is simply too slow. Today’s teams need leaders who can lead projects, customer situations, and service teams. These are often individuals who have natural leadership skills or inclinations. If we can redesign our leadership strategies to empower and support these people earlier, and focus on the “digital skills” of leadership, this market can reinvent itself.


Other Prediction:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


  • High-Impact Leadership: The New Leadership Maturity Model , Bersin by Deloitte / Andrea Derler, PhD, 2016. 
  • “Exposure” refers to learning that occurs through interaction and relationships with colleagues, professionals, and thought leaders, as well as with peers, customers, and contexts outside of a learner’s immediate job realm. 
  • In general terms, “organizational context” refers to the various attributes in the work environment that may influence a group (such as a company, division, department, work group, work role, etc.), and which have the potential to affect performance, attitudes, and behavior. These attributes include management processes, and organizational culture and systems, among others.
  • High-Impact Leadership: The New Leadership Maturity Model , Bersin by Deloitte / Andrea Derler, PhD, 2016.
  • The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016: Winning over the next generation of leaders, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2016, Bersin by Deloitte High-Impact Leadership research, 2016.


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