Leading into 2015

Current and Future trend analysis of the leadership publishing market

Researching and writing books takes time – it can take up to two years from the research phase to writing, editing and publishing. Looking at what is currently being published in the book market, therefore, doesn’t necessarily reflect the live leadership issues of the day (for that, you need to keep a regular eye on leadership in the daily news, websites, forums, monthly magazines, shareholder reports and published trends/surveys); that said, a comparative assessment of the shifts of publishing interests over a 6 month period can be insightful. Take a look at the current top ten themes in leadership book publications for Q3 2014:

1. Change and transformation
2. Spiritual/religious leadership
3. Leadership in the public services of education, healthcare youth and family
4. Coaching and feedback
5. Developing teams
6. Presidential/political leadership
7. Developing Self-awareness, self-leadership
8. Leadership across the Generations
9. Developing talent
10. Ethical/social responsibility/Ecological/future world/sustainability

Now compare this to the forthcoming top ten themes in leadership book publications leading into Q1 2015

1. Presidential/political leadership
2. Spiritual/religious leadership
3. Leadership in the public services of education, healthcare youth and family
4. Coaching and feedback
5. Creativity and innovation
6. Change and transformation
7. Ethical/social responsibility/Ecological/future world/sustainability
8. Military leadership with lessons for modern business
9. Project leadership
10. Values

Some themes such as spiritual and biblical leadership, leadership in public services, coaching and feedback haven’t shifted. But some things have changed. There is a steep decline in the amount of forthcoming publications on change and transformation and a sharp incline in the amount of political biographies. Creativity and innovation increases as does social responsibility and values.

Notable omissions from this list include the celebrity business leader market which is an elite market that seems to be on the decline (although Branson’s latest The Virgin Way is doing well) and the self-help/one-minute market that has seen its sales half since its peak of 2007.

The assessment of the change of top themes over a period of just six months demonstrates how protean and changeable the subject of leadership is right now. Clearly this is connected with the uncertainties and shifts that continue to persist even as we begin to see our way out of the tough global recession that has been with us for 5 years and it is evident that even reflective leadership commentators who are doing deep book research are undecided on what leadership models and strategies will best serve us in the post-recessional world. This uncertainty is evident even in this simple (unscientific) comparative analysis where some of the commentators are looking for leadership inspiration and models from past political leaders and the bible, whilst others are looking more toward humanist endeavours of nurturing creativity, innovation, values and social responsibility.

One thing is for sure, that despite a reported global decline in book sales (Click here for source) and an ever increasing flow of digital (non-printed) information, we are still reading books to inspire our individual and organisational leadership.

Richard Kelly PhD.
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