Essential Leadership Focus Areas for 2024 Success

Premierehire Executive search and leadership strategies

As a leadership coach, I work with leaders striving to adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of our workplace world. The challenges of 2023 will continue to evolve but what I have learned, especially over the last few years, is that the solutions are at our fingertips if we are prepared to face them head-on and engage stakeholders in generating solutions. Drawing from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s (SIOP) survey on the Top 10 Work Trends, and my own observations, I have summarized the top 4 challenges that leaders must pay attention to and proactively address.

1. Leading the Changing Workplace

The recent global events have accelerated workplace changes at an unprecedented rate. The rise of virtual work,  the “Great Resignation”, and the ongoing trend of low engagement (now called Presenteeism) have prompted a need for leaders to be exceptionally responsive. Conversations and flexibility are key. This means collaborating with your team and encouraging thinking outside the box to develop innovative strategies to solve problems and meet needs. As one CEO client aptly put it, “The pandemic underscored that a leader’s first priority is their team members.” Your adaptability isn’t just a leadership skill; it’s a survival tool. Thinking you can do the same old stuff, will mean higher turnover, lower innovation, and difficulties in attracting top talent. 

Quick Tip: Listen and let your teams identify the gaps and challenges. Upskill your teams to run more effective and efficient problem-solving sessions, learn how to engage key stakeholders, and improve how to build their case for resources. These skills are critical for a team to be empowered and make progress. An experienced team coach can help a team integrate this learning on the go.

2. Maintaining Employee Well-Being

Employee well-being has taken center stage. With stress and disengagement at all-time highs, it’s essential for leaders to prioritize the welfare of their teams. This may mean accommodating work schedules, allowing remote work, and being flexible with time off for healthcare or family obligations. Your role is to engage a support system and to be understanding and empathetic. Let your team(s) determine the best arrangements and guidelines to provide flexibility but still enable them to get their work done and meet their goals. 

Sometimes it is simple: One leader I worked with significantly improved team morale and reduced stress levels by hosting virtual bi-weekly coffee breaks. Packages of coffee or tea fixings were sent to home offices and the team enjoyed a chill coffee break together. They also added fun conversation starters like, “what is your favorite movie genre?” With a variety of personalities it is important to make the objective of the session clear, set a time limit, facilitate participation, and check in at the end with “did we meet our goal?, what did you like or dislike?”. Then rotate who is in charge of setting up and facilitating the next break. 

This same team evolved their connection time and last I checked they were meeting every other Friday for an end of day ‘drink of choice’ and a virtual game of poker.

3. Leading a Diverse and Inclusive Culture

Diversity and inclusion can sometimes feel like buzzwords but they’re vital for a harmonious and respectful work environment. A diverse workforce brings a plethora of perspectives and ideas, making your team stronger and more innovative. Recognizing and respecting everyone’s unique background and experiences, while ensuring everyone feels included can have significant impact. Your leadership approach to this area is key and again, it can be simple. One CEO I worked with encouraged activities which celebrated the different backgrounds and heritage within the workforce. This led to some fun activities plus more engaged and productive work teams. 

It is important to note that the type of diversity that helps teams be more effective at solving problems is more the unseen differences in their cognitive differences of how they approach problems or manage change. Diversity in these perspectives is valuable and also needs to be understood and celebrated. Understanding and comparing our differences can help increase safety in a team and encourage people to show up in their true nature. This can also help us be better at hiring variety vs. people who think like us. A research study reported in HBR highlights how important this is. Assessments can help speed up the process to highlight and learn how our differences provide the scope in perspective needed to solve problems efficiently.

When I work with leadership teams and new hires a starting point is often mapping out their cognitive differences, experimenting with and appreciating the value each perspective brings to team decision making and innovation.

Case Study: A study in the Harvard Business Review found that diverse teams solve problems faster than cognitively similar people. 

4. Engaging and Retaining Organizational Members

Engagement and retention are more crucial than ever. It can be a less visible cost that can evaporate profit margins and stall growth. Show your teams that they are valued and their contributions matter. Remember the Three Rs: Respect, Recognition, and Rewards. Putting resources into employee development is a great way to demonstrate all three by showing your commitment and care to them and their growth. 

Example: When a mid-sized tech company implemented a skill development program, this led to a 20% increase in employee retention. It also served as a valuable tool to attract new talent. Note that a growing number of SaaS tools are available to make it easier to administer and execute personalized professional development plans. Many specialize in areas of expertise, such as education and engineering, and integrate with ongoing assessments (vs. just the traditional annual review). 

Conclusion:

The landscape of leadership is constantly changing, but the core principles remain the same. Be adaptable, supportive, inclusive, and engaging. The success of your leadership is intricately intertwined with the success of your team so listen to and empower them. By focusing on these strategies, you will overcoming challenges and set a new standard for effective leadership.

References:

Alison, R. and David, L. Teams Solve Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/03/teams-solve-problems-faster-when-theyre-more-cognitively-diverse (2017).

The Author

Leanne Terrace helps leaders and teams reach higher levels of performance and fulfillment in their work.

Leanne serves as an executive & team coach, facilitator, leadership trainer, and talent advisor. Her coaching, tools, and proven processes transform organizational health, attract great people, and build great places to work because ‘people are the point’.

She and her team also help organizations find and retain top leaders with their 4 Phase Executive Search and New Leader Integration Solutions.

Leanne has over 25 years of executive leadership experience and is a certified executive and team coach (EMCC). She is a certified coach for Birkman Leadership Assessments and 360s and has extensive training with the Adizes Institute for Organizational Transformation, Robbins Madanes Intervention coaching, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Global Team Coaching Institute (GTCI). She also has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Business from UBC.

Leanne serves clients throughout the US and Canada, ranging in size and industry.

If you are looking to elevate your team, your leadership, or your career, please send an email or book a complimentary consult.