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Challenges Leaders FAce in a Changing World
With everything leaders are facing in the workplace, they need new capabilities to pursue shifting business goals, lead with agility, support their direct reports, and more. Leaders today are expected to lead and influence through complexity and ambiguity to drive innovation. They may have remote team members, or even a mix of human and machine workers. We’re asking them to lead at greater speed, in addition to coaching, enabling collaboration, and communicating across functions. In our regular review of research in the L&D field, we identify themes that summarize what leaders are facing. We’ve distilled the research into the four forces of disruption, destabilization, decentralization, and disillusionment.
Recent events have increased the intensity of these impacts on our leaders – especially disruption and destabilization. So how can we equip our leaders for the challenges they are facing from moment to moment?
What are leaders facing?
Accelerated disruption thanks to economic instability, geopolitical concerns, industry disruption, technology shifts (AI, automation), and now the impacts of COVID-19 on the workplace.
Declining trust in institutions of all kinds paired with employee change fatigue and burnout has engagement level at an all-time low.
Flatter organizations created by restructuring over the past few years are seeking growth through new products, services, and partnerships – putting more pressure on individuals, teams, and cross-functional groups to innovate more than ever before.
Positive attributes toward work have been on steady decline for years, but improving them requires more than perks or culture initiatives, it requires leaders to be more supportive and find ways to create more meaning at work.
What skills do leaders need?
We must remember that we are asking a lot of leaders right now, and we must amplify our empathy because they too are facing both personal and professional challenges. To help you meet your leaders where they are, here are some suggestions for how we can help them adjust and adapt by building skills and competencies they need to face the future with confidence.
To cope with disruption…
- Recharge: Help leaders figure out how to combat stress and pressure
- Reinvent: Get ahead of change, predicting it instead of just reacting to it
To beat destabilization…
- Reskill: Build leaders’ coaching skills to collaborate with team members and peers
- Relate: Deepen trust and engagement by focusing on relationships
To handle decentralization…
- Refocus: Clearly identify each team’s purpose and goals and ensure not just the leader but the whole team knows them too
- Rely: Strengthen cross-functional networks across the organization
To combat disillusionment…
- Rally: Encourage leaders to ask the team what would help create/maintain an environment of belonging and connectedness
- Restore: Empower leaders to increase autonomy for their teams and encourage them to define what’s meaningful about their daily work