The Top Seven Leadership Challenges Leaders Face
What’s most challenging about leading organizations today? With changing times, the types of challenges that leaders face have changed. Here’s a list of most common leadership challenges that leaders face these days.
Finding a good leader is a dream achievement for any organization.
Especially because every successful organization needs one at its different levels of authority. Many productive organizations invest a lot of time and money in shaping leaders who can lead their employees and improve their overall organizational performance.
Organizations in the 21st century have a need of leaders capable of adapting to changes, able to keep the ship afloat despite all those continuous changes of course.
The great challenges of tomorrow include acquiring and developing a certain range of skills and abilities. It is fairly obvious that we are living in a constantly changing world, increasingly dynamic and challenging. This complexity also affects the business environment, which never stops evolving.
Today’s leaders need to anticipate change, and be agile enough to deal with the challenges that are coming at them from all angles.
Leaders have been dealing with VUCA for decades, but now with ever-evolving technology and new processes, leaders and organizations are facing even stronger headwinds than they were even five years ago.
Just because you become a leader in your organization doesn’t mean that the floor won’t drop out around you.
Your role as a leader is to not get off balance because of change. You either have to see it coming and prepare or be able to handle it on the fly because both things are inevitable.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
That is what you, as a leader, have been chosen to handle. In fact, it is your quest if you accept it. These are the top seven leadership challenges that leaders have to face, but with the right tact and skill, you can route a strong course and come out on top.
Challenge #1: Leading Change
Leading and managing change effectively is a fairly global challenge — up to 70% of all change efforts fail! But it doesn’t have to be this way. Particularly leaders can have a big influence on whether change is implemented effectively. This is why developing leadership skills and confidence within organizations is so critical.
Change management and leadership management are two interrelated challenges that most organizations face these days.
When there’s a need for change management in an organization, it is the responsibility of a leader to consciously put effort into accepting and implementing it in the organization. But the biggest challenge lies in accepting the change themselves and the next challenge is to get your employees to believe in the change and follow the leader in accepting and implementing the change.
Life is about change. Leaders must anticipate it. They must manage through change.
Leaders must guide the organization to greater successes or to better overcome adversity. The universe doesn’t remain constant. It’s the same with your organization. Learn how to cope with change and use it to your advantage. Change isn’t all bad but it can create chaos is not probably managed.
Therefore, the ability to adapt to change become increasingly valuable and successful leadership will be supported by the ability of transformation.
In addition to that, leaders will move with more frequency between different cultures and business models, so they will need to show flexibility and adaptability. The leader of the future is destined to be the driving force for change.
In particular, ever-changing technology is something that creates challenges for leaders.
The challenge is that they need to understand the newest technology, but not consume all their time and energy keeping up with it. For example, leaders cannot spend time on every single new social media platform, but they do not want to miss being early on the next top platform.
Challenge #2: Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is so important. To have emotional intelligence is to be self-aware, be able to self-regulate, to have social awareness and social regulation. It’s all about knowing your strengths and challenges and how you contribute to the outcomes of different situations.
There will always be people on your team, in your organization and in your working life who are difficult.
Your goal, as a leader, is to handle them with grace and kindness. Don’t feed into them. Don’t prolong your exposure to them. Once you become a leader, you cannot be a part of your team without adding little tension to the environment. The main challenge lies in creating and implementing a formal process for conflict resolution and sticking to it.
The leader of the future must be a mentor.
One of the great challenges of tomorrow is to train leaders who can build up trust and show empathy toward others, inside and outside their own organization. In order to share a viewpoint and try to achieve a common goal, successful leadership should appeal to emotions and become a source of motivation.
The technical skills that helped secure your first promotion might not guarantee your next.
If you aspire to be an effective leader, there’s an emotional element you need to consider. It’s what helps you successfully coach teams, manage stress, deliver feedback, and collaborate with others. It’s called emotional intelligence, and accounts for nearly 90 percent of what sets high performers apart from peers with similar technical skills and knowledge.
Social skills will be regarded (as a matter of fact, they already are) as one of the most demanded types of skill.
These skills are the ones needed to persuade, influence and convince others in order to achieve goals. The leader of the 21st century must stand as a social influencer on their environment. One of the top priorities of the company of the 21st century will be to understand and watch the communication process within and outside the organization itself.
Challenge #3: Self-awareness
First time managers often find it difficult to take ownership of their role. It can be particularly difficult managing those they used to work closely with as peers, and perhaps have personal relationships with. They will need to learn to keep these personal relationships separate from workplace conversations.
Without awareness of leadership, it is, and will be, much more difficult to achieve any success at all.
The leaders of tomorrow will know they are one, they will stop to have a new look at their goals before going after them, and they will count on their team and be surrounded by the most capable people to achieve the goal. In short, the challenge will be to watch and develop leadership.
Even leaders who see themselves as being accessible and approachable are not always aware of others’ perceptions of their leadership roles and positions.
Of the power they have at their disposal. Anyone in a position of authority has power – formal and informal. And the longer they are in the position the more comfortable they become with the power. Sometimes to the point of no longer seeing its potential to separate, to legislate, even to intimidate.
Understand what the core responsibilities are for your role, and what are secondary responsibilities, or even work that belongs to someone else.
This also means that there will be times when you’ll have to say no. That can feel uncomfortable. Practicing saying no and finding ways to do so with tact and professionalism are important. Turning down work that’s not part of your role helps keep you focused.
People need to understand how their work adds value to bigger goals. The more they are aware of that, the more engaged they are.
All of this requires introspection, being aware of our core values and being able to stick to them no matter of all temporary obstacles we face. If you don’t stick to your values when you are being tested, they are not values. They are hobbies.
What is your company’s vision? If I walk into your building and ask three people, can they articulate your vision?
And your vision can’t just be a fluff statement that sounds like a bunch of corporate speak. Real leaders create a compelling vision for the future that ignites a fire under their team and keeps them working hard and doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking.
Challenge #4: Communication
As leaders , people may find it difficult to openly communicate with their team about expectations or to bring up issues they are encountering. However, it’s important to keep communication frequent and open so that everyone is on the same page.
Developing a culture of feedback within a team is an essential way to ensure they can really progress together and individually.
It’s equally important to celebrate their successes, however big or small. Making sure your team feels recognized is an important way to ensure they are motivated and want to contribute more.
Communication issues are probably your number one stressor as a leader.
Inevitably someone is going to reply all to an email that they shouldn’t have, a team member isn’t going to get the deadline straight, or someone just isn’t going to get the memo all together. Practicing your skills at being clear and brief will benefit the entire organization.
The ability to clearly communicate with people around them is one of the most important qualities of a leader. However, this is not as easy as it sounds.
Most leaders feel a disconnect between themselves and their team. Leaders should find a way to frequently communicate their plans and strategies with their team and guide them. Having two-way conversations about work with team members is a practice that helps both leaders and teams to understand each others’ expectations and stay on the same page.
With Generation Z’s propensity to communicate through means other than face-to-face, relationship building will become harder to do on a personal level.
Gen Z makes up 30% of the workforce in 2020 and leaders need to approach this new generation where they are. Gen Z prefers digital communication over voice or in person, making us question how you build relationships with a digital persona.
Challenge #5: Nurture The Culture
Just because you work in an organization doesn’t mean that you don’t have issues with your culture. You might be an office that doesn’t get along well as a team, has communication issues, gossips, or has undermining team members.
Whatever it is, you are going to have to deal with culture issues as the leader.
Changing cultural habits in an organization isn’t easy, but you set the tone. If you don’t want people to gossip, don’t gossip. If you want teams to work better together, you have to work well with teams. You are setting the entire tone of how the culture in your organization exists.
We all envy Google, Facebook, and Zappos for their dazzling company cultures.
But what we forget is that the creator of culture is the leaders, not HR or anyone else. Did you create your culture by design or did it just happen by default? When you consciously think about and design your culture to foster your desired behavior, your culture becomes a competitive advantage that attracts top talent and drives massive results.
Nowadays, most organizations are based on vertical structures where not everyone can cooperate in the same way.
The trend is to gradually implement a more horizontal model, based on collaboration. With the development of new information technologies, especially on the Internet, collective intelligence will become stronger and stronger.
The success of any business depends on its organizational culture.
With the right leadership, a positive organizational culture can spread throughout the workplace. Leaders need to be able to encourage a positive organizational culture in order to keep employees motivated and engaged. In this article, we discuss the ways in which leadership influences organizational culture.
Leadership is THE critical success factor for any company that is looking to change, build or embed the culture it is going to need to grow and meet financial targets in the future.
One of the most common mistakes made in introducing a new culture or shifting focus onto an existing one is that communicating it should be all that is required to bring it to life. For a culture to embed and help grow an organization, it needs to be truly believed in and acted on by everyone involved with that organization.
Challenge #6: The War of Talents
The No. 1 problem for any business leader through a period of hyper-growth has to be the identification, recruitment, training and development of talented professionals. The best strategy in the world fails without the human capital to execute it. If you are a leader that doesn’t consider this a problem, then that’s a problem.
There’s not enough highly-skilled talent to go around. Employers will increasingly turn to globally-sourced freelancers, the “gig economy” and crowd sourcing.
Engagement and keeping employees in seat is more critical than ever. Good people management and up-to-date performance management is critical. Continuous feedback and coaching should replace annual performance reviews.
Leaders should recruit someone that can eventually take their place.
Not having a replacement lessens your promotable opportunities. Don’t be selfish. Help every employee maximize their contribution. Help them grow greater satisfaction with their career. It’s what great leaders do!
It is commonly acknowledged that workforce diversity creates vibrant cultures and helps organizations compete in a global (and thus diverse) marketplace.
Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace often yield higher productivity, profit, and get a better return on their human capital. Future leaders will not only have to embrace cultural-, gender- and skills diversity but especially include the unique diversity that generations offer.
Specialized talent often costs more, and frankly, deserves more money.
Employers may complain of a talent shortage when they can’t find someone they desire at the price they would like to pay. If you are an organization with limited financial resources you may need to focus on being a great place to work, having a compelling purpose, and offering what you can. When you do this, talent will begin to find you.
Challenge #7: Keep Focused
Sometimes as a leader you can feel your motivation for the project or the organization fall flat. It happens to the best of us, but what you need to do is muster all of the good stuff around you and get back on track.
Don’t spend time dwelling on what isn’t working unless you can fix it.
You won’t always be the number one cheerleader in your own mind, but your team is expecting you to be so get out there and share the enthusiasm you do have; even when you are a little off your game.
Imagine being a fish trying to swim upstream. It’s tough to make progress.
That’s what happens when your key players are not all on the same page. Sure, you’ll have disagreements but as the leader, you have to make sure that when the decision is made, your team is behind it and they move forward in unity to make it happen. Once you align your team’s incentives to those of the company, magic starts to happen.
Make sure your team has a clear purpose, strong support and effectively shares information among the group and with important stakeholders outside of the group.
Leadership success always starts with a vision. John F. Kennedy famously dreamed of putting a man on the moon. Eleanor Roosevelt envisioned a world of equal opportunity for women and minorities. Today’s leaders should not only be visionaries, but also able to role model purpose if they were to stay relevant in an ever-changing global market place.
No matter what the situation, everyone on the team needs to know what is expected, whether it’s work processes or work product and deliverables.
As a leader, you may need to adjust expectations. For example, you may need to create shorter-term expectations. By definition, uncertainty means that things could change quickly. However, a mutual understanding of what is expected of each team member keeps the entire team more focused, moving forward, and working together toward a goal.
To succeed as a leader today, you need to master the competencies that the market values. At the same time, you need to ensure sustainability across all levels of your organization by developing its overall capabilities.
For leaders to stay one step ahead and thrive, they’ll need to embrace a change mindset and equip themselves with the skills needed in the future workplace.
Take time to look through the above and check whether your managers are on track or whether they may be facing difficulty in some of the aforementioned areas. If they are, make sure you have the resources in place to support them.
Leadership isn’t just about the hard stuff, but it is a big part of shouldering the responsibility.
Each time you have to grapple with something difficult, you are practicing how to do it better because stuff will always come up. Your growth in leadership is dependent on the lessons you learn on dealing with the good and the bad.
Every leader faces challenges. Be proactive.
Be persistent in learning leadership skills. You’re never too old or it’s never too late to get better. Challenges are like a charging bull. To cope, you just need to remember what it takes to be a great matador.
Leadership is a skill you can learn. By overcoming these seven common leadership challenges, you can lead your team — and your company — to greatness.
What do you think is the biggest challenge with leadership today? Share your experience with me in the comments section below and if you’re looking for more tips to grow your leadership skills, check out my Ultimate Leadership Survival Guide!