5 leadership challenges to address in 2024

Written by Alissa Parr, Director, Talent Solutions

The workplace has seen significant disruption and changes recently. The challenges of leadership are more prevalent than ever before in today’s fast-paced work environment. Overcoming these top leadership challenges is critical to success. To do so, leaders need to learn about the challenges, properly prepare themselves, and build the right strategies to overcome them. As we look toward the future, I want to highlight five leadership challenges and how leaders may seek to strategise around them.

5 challenges of leadership to address in 2024

1. Leading a remote/hybrid workforce

The pandemic challenged businesses to continue operations in a different manner. Workers who had jobs that could be completed off-site started working remotely. While current rates differ depending on the source, it is estimated that anywhere from 20-30% of US employees work remotely full-time or part-time. Even though the majority of workers or jobs require being onsite, it is still a reality that many leaders will need to manage remote teams in 2024.

Being dispersed may cause problems with communication, collaboration, and engagement. To this point, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 53% of those who work from home say that it hinders their ability to feel connected with coworkers. Additionally, that same survey found that 41% of workers who rarely or never work remotely say that working onsite helps them to feel more connected with coworkers.

This places a burden on leaders to ensure that all employees, whether they be onsite, fully remote, or hybrid, feel engaged and connected. Some things leaders can do to help employees working remotely feel more included, engaged in the vision, and aware of company ongoings include:

  • Authentically connect with their team by getting to know them as individuals. Learn about what excites them professionally or personally. Ask about their favourite foods or hobbies. Find commonalities between you both and leverage those for further discussions.
  • Communicate frequently, transparently, and in different ways (e.g., email, messages, verbally, etc.)
  • Bring their team together to discuss their involvement in the company vision

One practical tip for leaders navigating this challenge is to schedule ‘water cooler breaks’ to allow their team to gather and socialise without thinking about work tasks. This can help facilitate the interpersonal connection that all employees desire.

2. Promoting work-life balance

The lines between personal and work life can become blurred, especially when working remotely as it can be more challenging to disconnect. If employees are struggling to enforce boundaries working at home, their wellbeing could decline and they could experience burnout as a result. When this happens, employees feel less engaged, productive, and committed. Leaders who demonstrate concern for their employees by modelling a good balance between work and personal lives and ensuring that their employees have sufficient resources to complete their work are more likely to have employees that thrive.

One very simple tip that leaders can do to promote better work-life balance is to encourage their team to take breaks. Breaks can take the form of a walk outside, meal prepping at home, or a quick call to a friend. The goal is to separate themselves momentarily from work. Breaks can have a positive impact on their wellbeing by feeling more satisfied and engaged in work.

3. Providing support in times of economic uncertainty and constrained budget

When it comes to challenges of leadership, one that is not new is leaders are constantly being asked to do more with less resources. This is further complicated by today’s uncertain economy which is requiring many companies to make difficult decisions around company downsizing. Even though they may have fewer team members and resources, leaders are still expected to achieve their metrics and goals. This is going to require leaders to be more agile and think creatively about how to complete tasks in a more efficient and streamlined manner.

One tip leaders can employ to overcome this leadership challenge is to have group brainstorming sessions to generate ideas on how to work more efficiently on particular projects. This will not only generate ideas on how to do more with less, but also engage the team so they feel more involved in the company mission. During these times, it is easy for employee wellbeing to decrease, so leaders need to be acutely aware and sensitive to their team member’s wellness at work. Allowing them opportunities to express their voice and convey their value in the company goals can improve the team’s morale overall.

4. Guiding employees through technology advancement and change

We’ve heard this phrase many times: change is the only constant. Technology advances so rapidly, which presents the leadership challenge of staying updated and adapting their teams, departments, and organisation to new tools, systems, and processes.

Leaders need to effectively navigate and communicate through these changes to minimise resistance and ensure a smooth transition. When making adaptations to the ways of work, leaders need to ensure that these changes enhance productivity without causing stress on employees.

For this leadership challenge, a good tip for leaders to keep in mind is to always include the why behind the change and to gather feedback on the change after implemented. Providing a rationale helps employees understand the benefits of this change to the employee and the organisation, making them more receptive to embrace it. Also, knowing that there will be an opportunity to share feedback gives them a sense that their opinion, insights, and contributions make a difference. These are factors that couldn’t be replaced by automation and technological change.

5. Ensuring cultural sensitivity with the rise in globalization

One positive trend in the workplace is the focus toward globalisation and diversification. Greater diversity in the workplace creates opportunities for more powerful ideas, collaborations, and outputs. With this increased diversity, leaders need to navigate cultural differences to ensure that their leadership style is adaptable to diverse teams. They will need to understand and respect cultural nuances. As such, their approach to communication and collaboration must be sensitive and respectful. Leaders should proactively engage with all their team members and ask for input.

However, as one final tip, they should take it a step further and actively listen to the team. Listening and responding in a sensitive manner will help them gain knowledge of different cultural differences as well as ensure they are creating a psychologically safe environment to work.

Adapting strategies for tomorrow’s success

The modern workplace is fraught with leadership challenges that will need to be navigated. A common theme underpinning success amid all of these challenges of leadership is that leaders need to authentically connect with others. They need to be agile and open to change to inspire others toward the overarching goals of the company. By feeling a sense of connection and excitement to the mission, employees will join their leaders in doing what is best for the company and all the people within the company.

Nine essential elements for modern leadership

The requirements to successfully lead in today’s organisations differ significantly from the past, and leadership hiring and development processes can only be effective if the attitudes, skills, and behaviours measured align with demands of the modern, complex world.

Optimise your leadership talent processes, and create an organisation fit for the unpredictable future with our tip sheet, which will help you to understand the areas your (future) leaders need to master for sustained success.

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