My first blog post of each year describes four leadership themes for the coming year. Writing it provides me with an opportunity to step back and reflect on what is changing and what may change. This time last year I wrote about innovation, employee engagement, execution and collaboration. The bigger collective theme was coming out of the pandemic. This year, the pandemic is well behind us. Market impacts have largely worked their way through the system and we are back to a more normal year. Except over 50% of the people on earth will vote in government elections and two significant wars are in progress. Not normal, but maybe the new normal.
Four Leadership Themes for 2024
I chose this carefully and it is distinct from innovation. We are living in the age of AI that has the potential to change our lives. I see many companies trying AI in everything and declaring success when their AI enabled widget comes to market. Success is not being AI enabled, it is adding value through AI and that is where we need to experiment. We have to learn what is and what is not working, trying lots of things but focusing on value generated.
Our world is becoming more polarized than at any time I can remember. This year’s elections will likely increase the amount of polarization. The most effective leaders will be curious. They will seek to understand the bigger picture to find a way forward that brings people along with them. After all, leaders declare a future others commit to achieve.
#3 Decision Making
In uncertain times, people seek clarity and certainty. Leaders will do well to be decisive and choose action over analysis. Our world is increasingly complex and often that means we have to learn through doing. As we learn, we will need to adjust to stay on track to achieve our goals. We have to become comfortable making decisions with imperfect information. More importantly, we need to trust leaders who do this.
#4 Connect to Care
There is a generational shift in the workforce in progress. People are seeking more meaning in their work. Rather than expect people to do what they are told, leaders need to spend time explaining the ‘why’ behind requests and decisions. They need to invest time to understand what the members of their team care about and help them join dots with their vision. Leaders who do this well will generate high levels of employee engagement and that will be a major competitive advantage in the talent marketplace.
What leadership themes do you see ahead for 2024?