New research shows how leaders should be preparing for the future of work

Today we’re sharing the findings of a 14,000-person LinkedIn member survey conducted in partnership with Jacob Morgan, futurist and author of upcoming book The Future Leader, that identifies the skills, mindsets, trends, and challenges future leaders will need to adapt to over the next 10 years. 

The world of work is changing rapidly, and leaders need to adapt their own skills and mindsets to address future trends and challenges. Our findings show that while leaders may feel they’re prepared, their employees aren’t so sure, and often feel more confident in their own adaptability. 

Technology and rapid pace of change will require leaders to learn new skills.

  • When it comes to the leading trends leaders need to keep in mind, respondents viewed artificial intelligence (59%), pace of change (36%), and customer demands and expectations (32%) as most important things to address. 

  • Ethics and transparency also ranked highly as a trend impacting leaders, with nearly a third citing this (30%), underscoring the importance of trust and transparency in the era of digital disruption. 

  • Employees feel they’re taking more definitive action to prepare for these trends. More than 50% of respondents stated they are “definitely” taking steps to prepare, while 56% noted their leadership is only “somewhat” prepared.

Leadership that prioritizes people, purpose, and agility will come out ahead. 

  • A purpose-driven mindset will be critical to hiring and retaining new talent.  We’ve seen this trend before, purpose is a driver of engagement based on data by Glint, a leader of employee engagement. We’ve also found that more than half (52%) of U.S. millennials prioritize “values” over a paycheck.

Soft skills are more than a bonus, they’re table stakes. 

  • Leaders won’t just need to be purpose-driven, they’ll also need to be inspiring. When it comes to skills, more than half (51%) of respondents said leaders would need to know how to be motivated, engaging, and inspiring.

  • Being emotionally intelligent (39%), and having listening and communication skills (34%) also topped the list, echoing recent research that found emotional intelligence is one of the most in-demand skills in the world.

  • However, over half of respondents (51%) don’t think their leaders are currently practicing these skills well and are more likely to be confident in their own skills, with 68% indicating they believe they are practicing these skills “well” or “reasonably well.”

Overcoming talent challenges is top of mind.

  • Competition for top talent is tighter than ever, and attracting and retaining talent is the leading challenge leaders will need to address (45%). 

  • Professionals are aware their jobs are changing, noting that adapting to technological advancements and changes (44%), and reskilling or upskilling employees (40%)  were the next biggest challenges. 

  • Respondents are not positive on the outlook of how prepared their leaders are to face these future challenges in the workplace, with 59% indicating “not well at all and “somewhat well”. However, respondents feel much more prepared than their leaders to handle these challenges, with 46% indicating “very well” and “reasonably well” to facing future challenges.


This survey was conducted in March 2019 on a survey sample of 14,000 global LinkedIn members and presented in aggregate. This research will be included in Jacob Morgan’s upcoming book, The Future Leader.