A record 90% of employees did not receive a promotion in 2009, according to a recent survey of 5,200 workers conducted by job search engine titan Careerbuilder. Despite the bleak outlook, Reggie Van Lee, Executive Vice President of Virginia-based global consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, says, “The evolving context surrounding work holds promise for executives who recognize current business trends and aim to embrace them, rather than escape them.”
According to Van Lee, also co-author of Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business and Non-Profits Can Tackle Today’s Global Challenges Together (Palgrave Macmillan, $27.95), the decade’s new work order will reflect a heightened awareness of our values, convictions, altruisms, and fallacies. He predicts this awareness will cause organizations to operate in ways that are more conscious, informed, interconnected, and ethical, and that these developments will offer countless opportunities to executives across every sector.
Van Lee highlights several new standards that will drive business for 2010, and how professionals can leverage them for career advancement:
Conscious consumer-driven demand
“Consumer interest is the preeminent value lever,” states Van Lee. Consumer buying behavior will be less dictated by product price or feature and more by how the product or service reflects consumers’ values, attitudes and aspirations,” he explains. Professionals who can effectively solicit, sift, and manage varying and broad consumer feedback, and partner with stakeholders to create products that support emerging consumer values will have an advantage.
Greater interest in social responsibility
Claims of vast collusion resulting in the recent market collapse have forced stakeholders at every level to rethink social responsibility. “We’re seeing a renewed impetus for global community participants to adhere to self-imposed standards that ensure the welfare of the larger society,” Van Lee explains. There is a future for professionals who can leverage organizational core competencies for societal benefit, harness the power of employees to make a positive difference, and facilitate ongoing, impacting participation in the broader local, national, and international communities.
Trust as the new world currency
Following a trying decade of ponzi schemes, corporate scandals, and widespread public corruption, skepticism is rampant and scrutiny is at an all-time high. “Trust has become an integral part of every transaction–financial or otherwise,” says Van Lee. Opportunities exist for professionals who can develop and maintain ethical organizations with transparent operations that embody principles like integrity, honesty, and accountability.
Focus on sustainability
Failed negotiations on global climate regulations and international trade sanctions have kept the spotlight on environment. “Mounting concerns around global warming and other ecological issues will continue to make sustainability a formidable economic driver,” he suggests. Leading organizations will be increasingly compelled to offset carbon emissions, promote energy efficiencies, reduce water consumption, and develop renewable technologies that protect both global environmental and social assets. Professionals who can transform sustainable actions into bottom-line value will considerably outpace their colleagues.
Increased need for collaboration
Viral pandemics, natural disasters and international terrorist attacks are among a number of problems too dynamic for any one entity to solve alone. “Consequential solutions will require working across industries, sectors, geographical borders and cultures,” he adds. Opportunities exist for professionals who can communicate with multiple stakeholders, take an equitable approach to addressing current challenges, and put forward syntheses that are superior to any singular idea or effort.
Van Lee reiterates that even in these precarious times, executives can advance their careers by continuing to be relevant, and professionals would do well to be trendy.