- The pandemic led to many workforce and workplace changes. A critical leadership challenge is adapting to these.
- Leaders need to show care and concern for employees and focus on their well-being.
- Dealing with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion is an important leadership challenge today and for the future.
What are the top leadership challenges for 2023, and beyond?
Each year, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) surveys its members to determine the Top 10 Work Trends. Based on this, I’ve extracted the top 4 challenges that workplace leaders need to be concerned with in the coming year (and beyond).
- Leading the Changing Workplace. The global pandemic and the rise of virtual work, along with the Great Resignation that caused workers to rethink their jobs and careers, has created more workplace change faster than at any time in our history. This means that leaders today need to be more adaptive to address all of these changes in order to keep their teams and organizations moving forward. As one CEO told me, “The pandemic made it clear that a leader’s first priority needs to be their team members.” Leaders need to be flexible and think “outside the box” to work with team members to develop innovative strategies for achieving their goals.
- Maintaining Employee Well-Being. Worker stress and burnout are at an all-time high as we emerge from the pandemic, deal with a battered economy with rising inflation, and experience societal upheaval. It is critical that leaders demonstrate care and concern for their employees’ welfare. Supporting team members by accommodating work schedules, allowing them to work from home, or taking time off for healthcare maintenance or family obligations, is one strategy. But leaders should always demonstrate concern for employees’ needs and welfare.
- Leading a Diverse and Inclusive Culture. As the workforce becomes more diverse, it is critically important that leaders give priority to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion to provide for a supportive and harmonious work environment. One chief diversity officer (CDO) recently told me that she switched companies because, as she said, “The CEO only gave lip service to DEI issues. The organization was unwilling to put the resources needed into it. As a result, many good employees left, including me.” The bottom line in leading a diverse and inclusive culture is to simultaneously recognize each individual’s unique qualities and background, respect this, but also make everyone feel included, as my colleague Stef Johnson makes clear in her book, Inclusify.
- Engaging and Retaining Organizational Members. A final leadership challenge is to focus more on engaging workers in order to develop their capacity, but also, in this era of dissatisfied workers who are looking for alternatives, to keep them. Engaging workers means showing them that the organization values and cares about them. Strategies for engaging organizational members include the Three Rs: showing them respect, recognizing workers for their efforts and accomplishments, and rewarding them. Putting resources into employee development is an essential way to demonstrate both respect and recognition.
Johnson, S.K. (2020). Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams. Harper Business.