Boyden Leadership Trends Analysis Reveals Stark Paradox: Executives Prize Human Connection But Want Freedom in Work Life

New study from Boyden’s Leadership Consulting Centre of Excellence explores top seven leadership trends, with human-centred leadership as a dominant trend.

New York, Lisbon, Jan. 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Boyden, a premier leadership and talent advisory firm with more than 70 offices in over 45 countries, has published a definitive research study on leadership today; 2023 Boyden Leadership Trends, Re-signification of the leader’s role: the human way of leading. The report was published by the firm’s Leadership Consulting Centre of Excellence.

The relative priority of seven leadership trends is explored, with ‘human-centred leadership’ significantly ahead, scoring an average priority of 8 out of 10, while the next trend is ‘freedom-centric culture’ scoring 6.4 out of 10. ‘Responsible business’ scores 4.6 out of 10, while a ‘diverse leadership bench ‘scores 4.3 out of 10. In terms of absolute priority, 43.1 percent of survey respondents identify ‘human-centred leadership’ as their first priority for 2023 onwards. These results emphasize a clear focus on human- and freedom-centric leadership practices.

The first edition of Boyden Leadership Trends report examines key leadership priorities, organizations' maturity and several leadership strategies and challenges, through the lenses of 7 major leadership trends. The global study offers insight and data to leaders and organisations considering how best to move forward amid new pressures heightening the need to anticipate the future of leadership and become active participants in reinvention.

"Human-centred leadership is by far the most important leadership trend and the top priority in our study, with flexibility and humanism greatly valued," explains Katia Pina, Senior Director and Head of the Center of Excellence at Boyden Leadership Consulting.

"During the pandemic, leaders with greater ability to adjust their ways of working to the specific needs of their teams really stood out,  differentiating their style and leadership value. Interestingly, the importance of a freedom-centric culture also reveals a paradoxical tension between humanism on one hand – aiming for a sense of belonging – and flexibility on the other hand, with executives seeking for connection, in remote and virtual work contexts. This is challenging for leaders and increases individual accountability and complexity".

The seven leadership trends 

Human-Centred Leadership

Humanism at the centre of leadership, encouraging fairness, transparency and authenticity. Caring about the wellbeing and professional development of each individual.

Freedom-Centric Culture

Inspiring and encouraging a variety of work styles that best suit each individual’s lifestyle and ability to perform.

Beyond Resilience

Ability to thrive under extreme pressure, adapting and using change as an opportunity to grow and explore new opportunities.

Impact Learning

Leadership development using the right mix of tools and methodologies, co-created, bespoke, experiential and directly relevant to business.

People-Technology Link

Enabling digital fluency across the organisation, empowering leaders to embrace and leverage technology and digital transformation.

Responsible Businesses

Assuming responsibility towards a larger set of stakeholders, promoting transparency and purpose with a strong focus on social, environmental and financial sustainability.

Diverse Leadership Bench

Promoting a diverse, inclusive and sustainable pool of leadership talent. Fostering a psychologically safe environment to achieve high collective performance.

These trends were identified and honed into a list of seven through a combination of extensive research and validation by Boyden’s partners globally drawing upon their market knowledge and daily interaction with clients, candidates and professional networks.

"This is a unique opportunity to gather such a vast diversity of leadership insights. The data collected in this study can help leaders to have a more concrete perception of the needs of people and their organizations, preparing for 2023 and ensuring that they can thrive in a context of uncertainty and constant change, maintaining the well-being of their teams and the success of their businesses", concludes João Guedes Vaz, Partner and Global Head of Leadership Consulting at Boyden.

About the Study

The Leadership Trends study combines in-depth research with Boyden’s market insight and survey data from more than 460 senior executives worldwide. Regional representation is 43 percent from North America, 30 percent from Europe and 17 percent from China and Singapore. Respondents are 47 percent CEO or management and 32 percent HR, talent or people-related executives. Sector representation is 16 percent TMT, 15 percent professional services, 13 percent energy, resources & industrial with the remainder covering a broad range including consumer, financial services, healthcare & life sciences and public sector.

About Boyden Leadership Consulting

Boyden Leadership Consulting's Centre of Excellence promotes the development of leadership skills and consulting solutions in this area, combining internal expertise and strong partnerships with innovation and the industry's latest research.

About Boyden

Boyden is a premier leadership and talent advisory firm with more than 70 offices in over 45 countries. Our global reach enables us to serve client needs anywhere they conduct business. We connect great companies with great leaders through executive search, interim management and leadership consulting solutions. Boyden is ranked amongst the top companies on Forbes’ Americas Best Executive Recruiting Firms for 2021. For further information, visit


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