Leadership in 2024: What to Expect? What is Important?

We ended last year with a 2023 Leadership Checklist, where we reviewed the top five challenges that leaders and organizations were facing across the globe. In short, the challenges can be summarized with just one word – Uncertainty. Across the board, there were clear signs of leaders having a lack of confidence in themselves – their impact on their people, and their organization. Accompanied by the increasing lack of trust from employees, it’s no wonder that leaders are left burnt out and questioning their abilities.

Embracing the Uncertainty: Visualizing Stability

With the world more turbulent than ever before, volatility will be a term that’s going to be widely used across the leadership world. Work changes have become frequent, and old enemies such as employee attrition aren’t going away anytime soon. There seems to be this heightened sense of pressure at work and increasing unrest and fearfulness for the future.

While fear of uncertainty isn’t enough to completely disrupt your workplace, it’s easy to see how it can spiral into potentially destabilizing your organization. Think about the “Quiet Quitting” phenomenon; millennials are unsure whether they would even be employed within the next 6 months, so why give the extra effort? In times of uncertainty and instability, people need to have a strong pillar to rely on. In 2024, leaders must have a strong vision for the future. Leaders need to stay ahead of the curve and back themselves to drive organizational success, all while improving the psychological contract with their employees.

It's All About Trust

As leaders navigate the turbulence, establishing their vision, it’s important to have a group of employees who truly trust the executives at the helm. Without trust, no matter how good the vision, the organization isn’t going to follow suit. The results of which are sub-par execution and performance, accompanied by a looming resignation.

Trust Gap: Expectations ≠ Reality

According to PwC, 91% of business leaders and executives know that their ability to build and maintain trust increases their bottom line. Executives also believe that they’re really good at building trust:

  • 84% of my customers highly trust the company
  • 79% of my employees highly trust the company and their employer

Yet, research shows that only 65% of employees highly trust their organization. Even worse, only 27% of surveyed customers have high trust in these companies. Trust that’s taken years to build can be easily broken. 54% of employees reported having experienced a trust-damaging event, but only 20% of executives reported being involved in the same. And here’s the scary statistic: more than half of the employees reported that they left the company after the event.

Building Trust in 2024 as a Business Leader

  1. Empower your workforce

Empowering employees to take charge of their growth and reach their full potential will be a priority leadership trend in 2024. People like to know they are a valued member of the organization. They need to know how critical they are to the success of the business, and that their manager trusts them by delegating responsibilities and providing opportunities to showcase their talent. Here are some ways leaders can empower their workforce in 2024:

  • Involvement & Inclusion: Proactively involve team members to contribute to the process of building trust. Start off by getting their input on certain challenges the organization is facing and invite them to become part of the solution.
  • Sharing the “why”: Employees have the right to know what’s going on behind the scenes; the rationale behind certain actions. Leaders can no longer get away with hiding information. Instead, they should actively share their thoughts and rationale behind decisions to gather support from their employees. As a result, the Psychological Contract strengthens, and employees are naturally more willing to be innovative and more resilient to setbacks.
  1. Expectations & Reality Alignment

Survey data shows that there is a huge misalignment when it comes to executive and employee perspectives.

  • 77% of executives believe they offer their people opportunities for career advancement – only 62% of employees agree.
  • 76% of executives believe they offer an engaging and high-performance environment – only 59% of employees agree.
  • 80% of executives believe their purpose and values are in alignment – only 53% of employees agree.

It’s time for business leaders and executives to re-evaluate their own perspectives and expectations against the reality their employees experience. It’s not just improving communication channels and remote working flexibility. It’s about taking a proactive stance on catering to and caring for the employees. The further the disconnect between expectations and reality, the more likely organizations will experience higher attrition and a lower bottom line. It’s, therefore, critical that your organization regularly conducts feedback surveys on the executive team and their leadership qualities.

What Now?

Now’s the exciting part. Start committing to developing your leadership qualities. It starts with your own people.

  • What are their priorities?
  • What is their definition of success? Can your organization provide the long-term stability they’re looking for?
  • What challenges are they facing within the organization?

Yes, your personal leadership style is important, but is it still effective in 2024? By adapting to the turbulence of today, leaders can then drive their organization towards success, along with their employees. Start today by asking yourself a simple question:

“What can I do to make my employees feel safe and stable under my leadership?”

Then, ask your employees.